Buying or selling something? Make it a face-to-face cash deal

A man answers an ad on Craigslist. The ad says they will hunt a car loan for him. All he needs to do is send $500, his name, date of birth, Social Security number and even his birth certificate to a guy known only as Dennis.

The victim did just that. The man later reports to the police that he never heard back from Dennis.

How many of you would do this?

This isn’t an error in judgment. It’s just stupid. We get dozens of similar reports each week.

You’re selling a $500 lawn mower on Craigslist or the online paper. You’re contacted by a man who said he wants to purchase the mower. He’ll send you $1,500. Deposit it and then send a money order for the balance of $1,000 to an address in another city for “shipping.”

You deposit the money order or check, then you send a money order as requested to the address. A couple of days later your bank said the money order you received was no good.

Yours was and it’s now gone to a P.O. box to be collected by the crook.

Now this one is obviously based on good timing for the crook. If you find the money order is fraudulent before you send yours off, you’re OK. They urge you to immediately send it so they can make plans to ship it.

Just reading this, you’re thinking what a bunch of bull, right? Well, there are a lot of people who fall right into it.

Just be skeptical. Craigslist isn’t a scam. They warn you that there are scams working through Craigslist ads, but I’ve used it several times. The best way to do any business with folks you don’t know is through a face-to-face cash deal.

Just a reminder folks. There’s nothing wrong with being politely skeptical. Verify, call, double-check.

14 comments Add your comment


November 9th, 2010
5:56 pm


November 9th, 2010
7:28 pm

How about the fake lawyer who contacts you through facebook with the 5 miilion dollar man that died with no immediate family but he has your last name. Do you think this is a scam? Duh!

Man from U.N.C.L.E.

November 9th, 2010
7:54 pm

It’s either “trust but verify” or “There’s a sucker born every minute, and two to take him”.


November 9th, 2010
11:04 pm

I hear there’s a dude in Nigeria that will share his vast wealth with you if you just give him your bank account number so he can deposit the money and get it out of the country.

Big Al

November 10th, 2010
7:36 am

I would worry about doing the face to face transaction with cash. I show up with cash, the seller shows up with a gun, seller leaves with cash. Hopefully I am still standing and not leaking blood anywhere.


November 10th, 2010
8:04 am

BEWARE!!! There are also “work at home” scams. Answer ad via email. They will interview you via Yahoo IM (red flag). Hire you immediately (red flag). Send you a money order, check, or cashiers check for certain dollar amounts (red flag). Have you cash at your bank (red flag). Tell you where to go to purchase computer and software and the “balance” you keep for petty cash (red flag). They are very good counterfeit checks (according to the postmaster general). Most banks can’t tell checks are fake until they don’t clear and you are out the amount of the check. Followed thru on this up to the cashing check part. Took the check to authorities and they are now under investigation.


November 10th, 2010
2:37 pm

The fact that people actually fall for these scams makes me sad for the human race.

How stupid do you have to be to think, even for one second, that this is a good idea?

What are we teaching our kids in school? Where has common sense gone? What has happened to civil discourse? Disagreement without violence?

I’ll crawl back in my cave now.


November 11th, 2010
7:20 am

Thanks for your service to this country, Lt. Steve.

Fair winds and following seas, shipmate.

Van Jones

November 11th, 2010
8:26 am

Gullible (and greedy) victims come in all shapes and sizes – as evidenced by Steve’s annual column on the pigeon drop scam. Keep up the good work Steve!


November 11th, 2010
10:27 am

I think that I am in love with Troglodyke!


November 12th, 2010
9:55 am

The other suggestion would be to meet in a public place if possible or have someone with you for the face to face. don’t be alone

Someone might not want to stop at just stealing your money for one item. They’d want all of everything.

There was a bad kidnapping by ceasarian case a few years ago where the couple was selling their jeep in hopes of getting a minivan. The creepy woman showed up, saw the pregnant woman was alone, and killed her when she cut the baby out. Extreme but the point is, be sensible about your safety.


November 12th, 2010
10:11 pm

There was a t.v. program recently where a guy looked at a car to buy,(advertised on c.l.) from an individual he did not know. He agreed to pay cash and showed up at a closed gas station , after dark, with cash on hip. A stranger shows up to rob him, and kills him, in front of his girlfriend, when he objects. As it turned out, the robber and suppossed seller were in cahoots. The buyer was lured in by the prospect of getting a really super deal on the car. The thoughts of the excellent deal caused him to forget all common sense like the timing and location of the transaction, and he was in a place and part of town he knew nothing about. if the killer had killed the girl, it might still be an unsolved case.


November 14th, 2010
12:44 am

“I see stupid people.” (paraphrase from the movie “The Sixth Sense” for the benefit of you stupid people who probably STILL don’t get the reference.)

And just damn, you can’t cure stupid. Bless your heart Steve, you keep on trying to cure them. I applaud you. Seriously, I mean that from the heart. But the bottom line is this:

Most people who get caught up in “scams” are scumbags at heart. They think they are cheating someone else and are indignant when they find out that THEY in fact are the ones being scammed. They are the stupid people. I see a poetic justice when they get fleeced. Kinda like when a thug tries to shoot someone and ends up getting shot dead instead………..

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November 15th, 2010
8:07 pm

People still fall for the old Amway/Quickstar/Noni scams…..why would these be any different?