In a paper to be presented later this month at the IEEE eCrime Research Summit in Birmingham, Alabama researchers Damon McCoy and Jackie Jones of George Mason University will disclose how they uncovered a group of five Nigerian gangs, who with the cooperation of accomplices in the United States re using Craigslist advertisements to scam people selling goods on Craigslist. The method used by these gangs is one that I have warned you about many times in the past. It starts when the scammers answer a legitimate advertisement and then send what appears to be a certified check in excess of the amount owed for the purchase. The scammer then asks that the goods be sent to an address in the United States and the money from the certified check in excess of the purchase price be wired by Western Union to a person designated by the scammer in the United States. Of course, the check is a forgery, albeit an often excellent forgery. Sometimes the victims think they are being prudent by waiting a few days for the funds to be deemed available by their bank without realizing that they are only receiving provisional credit for the funds represented by the check and that once the check bounces and determined to be a forgery, the amount of the check is removed from the victim’s account who now has lost not just the money wired to the scammer, but also the goods that they have already shipped.
Craiglist can work well if you take proper precautions. The primary rule if you are a seller is to never accept any payment other than cash in a face to face meeting at which the item is exchanged for the cash. Phony certified checks in excess of the purchase amount is a common scam, however, you should never accept any check. Banks will appear to clear a check after a few days and it will look like the funds have been deposited into your account, but you have only received temporary, provisional credit which, once the check proves to be counterfeit will be removed from your account.