Friday, February 8, 2013

Craigslist Scams that were tried on me!

I am taking a little deviation from the normal stuff about the house projects to write about what I am experiencing on Craigslist while trying to find a new place to live and selling some of my stuff.

Money Order Scam
First was the fallen oak tree at the Hill house that I was trying to sell. It is a beautiful old-growth oak and it is too much for me to handle on my own. I thought maybe someone will want it for wood-working or firewood so I posted an ad. I had a really nice email from a guy who wanted it and didn't want to negotiate the price. Great! Until he said he lived in Michigan and would have someone come get it and would like to overnight me a money order. I am pretty sure they have trees in Michigan and the freight charge for 2000 lbs of wood would pay for a lot of trees. I said I only take paypal or cash in person and never heard from him again.
This is probably the most common scam there is on CL - they will send you a money order for more than the item is worth. You contact them and say there must be a mistake, and they say "oops" that was supposed to go to another person they were buying something from, but why don't you deposit it and send them the overage back, along with the item they are purchasing. The money order is counterfeit and you are out the item and the cash. 
When we were paying for Nick's apartment in Tucson the management company asked for a deposit via money order. The teller at the bank just shook her head and said that because there are so many counterfeit money orders now, they hold the funds up to 10 days before releasing them if you deposit a money order, 5 days longer than a large check!  
Never accept a money order she said, especially the post office ones since they are the most often counterfeited.

Next scam - the rental scam.
There are a few kinds of these- the first being people who take a picture from the outside of a house and post it for rent. You can't seem to find a time to connect and see the inside but talk to the person outside of the house and agree to go ahead with it. You pay them and they give you a key that isn't to that house. In fact, they never owned it or had the right to rent it and now they are gone.
The one I had yesterday was even sneakier - the listing had pictures of a place for rent on the inside and it is in my area of Lamorinda. I sent an email requesting info and got a reply the next morning from "Sally", who was happy to show me the place but wouldn't disclose the address until I filled out a rental form from a website she included on the email. I replied back that I will not be filling out any credit info until I see the place and will meet her there on friday @ 11. No reply until this morning saying, nope, fill out the form first. The url in the email  was misspelled with "creditcheck" being "creeditcheck"... so I went to a site called whois.com and put that url in to get info. This site tells you who owns it, what country it is based in etc... this one was in the Phillipines! Which explains the reason she didn't answer during the day... I emailed her back and said you are a scam and I am reporting you to craigslist. (ooh... yea.. she is scared.... ) 
(When I told Nick about this his reaction was, good thing you are smart!)

I have decided to abandon craigslist... and go with realtors or otherwise established and verifiable organizations. We need a website where all the postings are verified but I know that will not  happen. It would be expensive to manage and there would have to be a cost to the people posting the ads as well as those looking... we like free too much.

So today I going to look at a luxury apartment complex in Pleasant Hill, near Bart that not only takes large dogs, but has it's own dog park. It is pricey but all these other things are just too sketchy for me and I really don't have the time.

Julie