Craigslist PayPal Scam

I’m replying to your post on craigslist for your listed item,is it still up for sale?
Let me know.

This legitimate-looking email came from Sara Jason <skittysara2 [at] gmail [dot] com>. Generic enough — nothing to be concerned about. I replied: “Yes.”

Her response:

Good day ,

I’m much interested in buying it, I want it for my cousin.. So am willing to offer you $420 plus shipping via USPS (EMS) express mail to him, he schools in a missionary in Nigeria and I’m presently out of town a the moment so you’ll arrange for the shipping handling..Get back to me as soon as you can so I can arrange to send the money through my paypal account,so send me your paypal account address so i can send you the money there… I’ll wait your reply.

Thanks Sara

I just came across the site

They have videos where a guy tries to pull Internet scams in real life. They’re ridiculous, and he does it in such a way that it’s obviously fake.

The goal of the site is to prevent these scams from tricking people. But I think these videos are actually a disservice, because of the exaggerated way they are done. People fall for these scams because they seem reasonable. The scammers often won’t contact you not unsolicited, but rather in response to something you have for sale, on Craigslist for example. In the videos, the guy posing as a scammer approaches people out of nowhere, a complete stranger, and makes very little attempt to establish a connection beforehand. And the offer itself is just ridiculous. $70,000 when people are buying fruits at a grocery stand? For a car, maybe. Or a house. But not in that context.

Sure, the videos are meant to be ridiculous. They’re meant to showcase the absurdity of it. But based on these videos, people will think that the scams are easy to identify. It’s easy to think that you need only be careful of obviously fake checks of ridiculous amounts.

The scammers will choose smaller amounts. It is still easily worth it to them.

In these countries, people earn less than $200 a month at a full-time job. Spending lots of time on an elaborate scam is easily within reason for them.

And, of course, these things don’t happen in real life. They happen online. So when this guy tries using Internet scams in real life, it’s obvious they won’t work (although they do work in just 1 rare instance). There are real-life scammers, too. But they adapt to the situation.

People are spending more and more time online. And people are being born every day, unaware of the risks and the scams. They don’t teach this in school. Common sense is not common.

The online scams are far trickier than the real-life ones.

If you post an ad on Craigslist, there are lots of legitimate people who may contact you.

But there are also lots of scammers, too.

Use Craigslist for any significant period of time, and you will definitely get an email from a scammer. Guaranteed. No question about it. Scammers blanket email everyone who lists something of any significant value (more than $100) on Craigslist.

I got a fake money order from someone on Craigslist, who asked me to wire some portion of the money back to him. I didn’t even bother depositing the money order (or cashier’s check), because I knew it had to be fake.

But you cannot tell by its appearance.

It exactly duplicates a legitimate cashier’s check.

Physically, there is no difference whatsoever.

The bank can’t even tell. In fact, the check will “clear”. But that does not mean it was good.

Weeks or months later, the bank will discover it was a bad check, and take the money back.

In the case of “Sara”, above, it’s a PayPal scam.

If you accept, you’ll receive a legitimate-looking email from “PayPal” saying that the funds have been received and secured, and they are waiting for you in escrow. You just need to verify your account info (or some personal info) to receive them. A bit of a twist, and no fake check involved this time. But still a scam, this time of a type that would be classified as a phishing scam.

There are some good parts to the site, like the Victim Interviews. Some of them are actually quite interesting. If you don’t already consider yourself an expert on Internet scams, they’re definitely worth a watch.

85 Responses to “Craigslist PayPal Scam”

  1. Noah MacFaden says:

    I would love to hold someone accountable. It seems almost impossible though, as every scammer that as approached me on craigslist wanted the item in question sent to Nigeria or some other African nation. I feel that Paypal themselves should have to be liable for something, as they are providing the service, but that seems highly unlikely. Oh well, I suppose for now we just have to be on our toes, because it’s not getting any better from my point of view- it’s getting worse- the only 2 inquiries that I had for my last item (a camera) were out-of-the-country scammers, and I sent them packing. It just

  2. Gary says:

    I have also received such a response, first I received a e-mail asking me if it was still available from one person and when I responded yes I received a second e-mail from a different e-mail address with the pitch like above “Thanks for the prompt response.. I am ready to buy it now but i am not
    in town at the moment as i am a marine engineer manager and due to the
    nature of my work, It hard to make a phone calls and visiting of
    website are restricted but i squeezed out time to check this advert
    and send you an email regarding it. I really want it to be a surprise
    for my dad so i wont let him know anything about it until it gets
    delivered to him, i am sure he will be more than happy with it. I
    insisted on paypal because i don’t have access to my bank account
    online as i don’t have internet banking, but i can pay from my paypal
    account, as i have my bank a/c attached to it, i will need you to give
    me your paypal email address and the price so i can make the payment
    asap for it and please if you don’t have paypal account yet, it is
    very easy to set up, go to and get it set up, after you
    have set it up i will only need the e-mail address you use for
    registration with paypal so as to put the money through. I have a pick
    up agent that will come and pick it after i have made the payment…


    I’m just curious what is the pay off? I never went further then the first e-mail. do they actually send someone to pick up the item (in my case a motorcycle) or do they somehow trick you into sending them money. has to be more then just a bogus PayPal deposit.

  3. James says:

    I got the same scam from a “Ted Carr”
    Thanks for the prompt response.. I am really interested in buying your
    item but i am not in town at the moment as i am a marine engineer and
    due to the nature of my work, It’s hard to make a phone calls and
    visiting of website are restricted but i squeezed out time to check
    this advert and send you an email regarding it. I really want it to be
    a surprise for my dad so i wont let him know anything about it until
    it gets delivered to him, i am sure he will be more than happy with
    it. will be making the payment via paypal because i don’t have access
    to my bank account online as i don’t have internet banking, but i can
    make the payment from my paypal account, as i have my bank a/c
    attached to it, i will need you to give me your paypal email address
    and the price so i can make the payment asap for it and please if you
    don’t have paypal account yet, it is very easy to set up, go to and get it set up, after you have set it up i will only
    need the e-mail address you use for registration with paypal so i can
    put the money through it. I have a movers agent that will come for the
    pick up after i have made the payment,

  4. Charlie says:

    We got the exact “I’m a marine engineer and can’t get to bank, it’s a surprise for my dad” response while selling our boat. I had a bad feeling about it, so I looked online and found this posting. Not sure what would have happened if we pursued it.

  5. Steve Rupard says:

    Just got the exact same offer to buy my motorcycle.. What are you to do to make sure there is any realy offer, or is it just a scam of some type? And how does it work

  6. LM says:

    I got one (I should say 4-5) too! I wrote back and said “I” had a better idea….since they already had a Paypal account, simply leave the funds in your account, and give me your password. Once I retrieve the funds for your purchase, change your password! Same concept except the shoe is on the other foot, right? They never responded back….I wonder why! LOL!

  7. Rainer says:

    Hi Gary,

    I received the excact same email when I wanted to sell a bed. Unfortunately I gave them my Address and PayPal email. Do you think there can something happen?
    Thanks – Rainer

    • Candy says:

      If that is all you did was give them your email address for paypal no they can’t co anything else except add a phony check. If that happens call the police. They will take it from there.

    • Paul Anderspn says:

      The only thing this guy can do is put maoney in your PayPal account, can’t take it out. You and PayPal are not out cash or merchandise. Don’t worry about it.

  8. Doug says:

    Nothing will happen if you don’t send the item or give him any money. the next step is for him to send you a bogus email from paypal saying the monies there waiting and you need to send the item. Or he will tell you he over paid accidently and ask for money back. Just don’t do anything and nothing will happen.

  9. D-rock says:

    I just got one of these myself:

    Thanks for the mail, I’m interested in buying this item for my son and
    I’m okay with the price, I’m a Subsea Engineer and currently offshore
    I want this as a surprise gift for my son so I won’t let him to be
    aware until delivery. I feel more comfortable to handle the payment
    through PayPal due to their various security measures and ensuring
    safety and secured transaction between both buyers and seller and
    kindly reply me with your paypal email address for me to processed
    with the payment, incase you do not have an account with paypal you
    can easily set-up an account with them today as it’s secured and
    reliable in terms of transaction arrangement. Visit their website on I will be responsible for the paypal charges. My movers
    would come around for the pick up as soon as possible, after the
    payment has been sent to you and your full address and phone number
    will be needed for the freight arrangement I would love to speak with
    you through the phone but due to the nature of my work as a Subsea
    Engineer i work mainly at the Sea of Okhotsk and our phone is down on
    the rig right now due to bad weather, We can still communicate through
    the email exchange for now.

    I will be looking forward to read from you in real soon with the
    paypal email address and your full address including phone number for
    the freight arrangement.


  10. Candy says:

    Just yesterday someone emailed us and said he wanted to buy a car that we have for sale for his “Dad” and also sent me a link to his “Linked In” page. Said he would get a hold of his agent etc…he sent an email saying that he said the money is in my paypal account. I logged in not from the link to paypal he had, I logged in the way I usually do… no money…I sent him an email back saying that I just checked there no money…I did not hear from him again. When he said it was for his “Dad” for some reason I saw red flags.

    I also have a dirt bike I am selling on Craigslist…I got an email last night from a different scam artist wanting to buy it for her “uncle”…I never responded and she quickly moved on….

  11. Kris says:

    Thanks everyone for posting….this marine engineer now wants to buy my car as a gift for his son. Wow – he/she sure is generous wanting to buy so many gifts for people!! Thanks again everyone for sharing their similar emails – I won’t waste my time replying.

  12. Yep. Got a similar one.

    catherine daniels
    Hi there, Thank you for getting back to me.Can you assure me that it’s
    > in good state and that i will not be disappointed with it?I’m ready to
    > pay your asking
    > price and to be honest, i want to buy this for my Dad as his birthday gift.
    > I a marine biologist that works on the sea at the moment. phone calls
    > making and visiting of
    > website are restricted but i squeezed out time to check this advert
    > and send you an email regarding it so my only quickest payment option
    > is PayPal as i can send money via PayPal anytime.Since
    > I’m requesting this transaction to be done via PayPal, i will be
    > responsible for all the pay pal fee/charges on this transaction and if
    > you don’t have an account
    > with paypal,its pretty easy, safe and secured to open one. Just log on
    > to I hope we can make
    > the purchase as fast as possible? I have a mover that will come for it
    > once payment clears . i will like to see more pics i look forward to
    > hear back from you
    > soon.
    > details that i needed are below
    > Your PayPal e-Mail Address :
    > Full name:
    > Firm Price:
    > Your cell phone number:
    > God bless you .

    Awh. She even blessed me before she tried to take advantage of me.

  13. Tammy C says:

    My son was selling his boat on CL and came to get our pickup to bring it to his house as he had a buyer. His wife told me the guy wanted to pay paypal and she wanted to know how to do it. Told her, need his email addy and click Request Money. My son said, he’ll send a shipper to pick up boat. WHOA! Told them no deal, don’t do it!

  14. Wayne Crackenberger says:

    This Ted Carr sent me an email saying he is a Marine Biologist and is out to sea. Want’s to buy my boat through pay pal with a pick up agent. Boat will be his dads surprise birthday gift. 9-10-2012

  15. Mel says:

    Wow. Now she’s a Marine Biologist. She wants to buy my car for her dad. Thankfully all of you posted this to confirm my suspicions.

  16. Sal says:

    This is what I got told for the item I have for sale on Craigslist:

    Thank you for getting back to me, Please i’m seriously interested in buying it for my brother ‘Matthew’, i have no problem with your asking price, i hope it’s in a good condition? i’ll not be able to meet up to pay in cash as i have a job that keeps me really busy but i have my bank account linked with my paypal account, i’ll be paying the money upfront into your paypal account through my paypal account since its a safe way to exchange funds over the internet i will also be adding an extra $80 which i’m sure it’ll cover shipping expenses. If you have an account with paypal i’m gonna need you to get back to me with your payola email address since that’s all i need to process the money into your paypal account but if you don’t have one you can log on to paypal website and easily set up your own personal account since it’s free. I believe in treating people the way i want to be treated so i want your honesty in return to my faithfulness to you during this transaction. You can call me if you wish to speak on phone (814) 580-0371

    * I dont know how legitmate this is appreciated.

  17. Billie Goodridge says:

    I recived this email and was very suspicious from the begining since I wanted cash in hand! I posted on craiglist my Wren Industrial Winch 18000lbs for 1500.00!

    THEM: I would like to know if is still available for sale and its in a good condition ???

    Jordan David Evans

    ME: Yes it is still avaible.

    THEM:Thanks for the mail,i am buying this for my son as his gift because i would not be around to celebrate with him i am a petroleum engineer currently on a rig offshore and due to the nature of my work,phone calls making and visiting of website are restricted but i squeezed out time to check this advert and send you an email regarding it. I really want this item to be a surprise gift for my son so i wont let him know anything about the item until it gets delivered to him,i am sure he will be more than happy with the item.I will make the payment through paypal because i don’t have access to my bank account online as i don’t have internet banking, but i can pay from my PayPal account,as i have my bank a/c attached to it, i will need you to give me your PayPal email address so i can make the payment as soon as possible for the item and pls if you don’t have PayPal account yet,it is very easy to set up, go on and get it set up ,after you have set it up i will only need the e-mail address you use for registration with PayPal so as to put the money through.I have a pick up agent that will come for the pick up immediately you have receive the payment in full.i also want you to remove it from cl.
    Jordan David

    I never replied back!!!

    • Billie Goodridge says:

      Then not to much longer I recived this email from another person who is interested in my wren industrial winch 18000lbs.

      THEM:Kindly email me back if you still have your listed item for sale..
      Jennifer LeBlanc

      ME: Yes its still is avaiable.

      • Billie Goodridge says:

        I finally heard back from them here is what the email said:

        Thanks you for the response according to the description,i asked
        Jennifer Leblanc to help me ask for the price and condition of the
        item as i am okay with the price and the condition pasted on cl. I am
        ready to make instant purchase.My mode of payment would be in
        CERTIFIED CHECK and i will arrange for a local pick up as soon as you
        get the check, because that is the only inconvenient means for me and
        due to my work frame i can not be able to get there and i promise
        everything will go smoothly.I really wish to be there to check out the
        item but i don’t have chance cause am very busy person (US MARINE).
        Concerning the pick up, i will arrange for it after you receive the
        payment and it clears…Pls get back to me with below info so that i
        can proceed with the payment immediately if you are selling to me.

        Full Name:
        Address: Not P.O.BOX
        State:Postal Code:
        Total amount for the item
        Phone Number: That i can send text

        And as soon as this is provided, the payment will be overnight to you
        and i will let you know when its mailed out. Thanks and i hope we
        handle this in good faith while waiting to hear from you. i will add
        an additional $50 so that you can hold it for me till the check reach

        Best Regards
        Thomas Muller
        732 806-0568

  18. J says:

    I received the same email, but it looks like they have moved on to being an oceanographer now instead of a marine biologist. Thanks for the info, very helpful.

  19. Phil says:


    I beleive that there is anew scammer that arouse, so let me share my story with you!

    On Oct. 24, 2012 I deceided to sell my xbox 360 and 15 games for 450.00 and I placed it on buffalo, 5 mins later I receive a phone call from the following number (924) 665-01 and yes thats the full number that popped up, so anyway I did not answer so he deceided to text me.

    Waynescott799: hello is the xbox 360 posted still available for sell?

    Me: Yes

    Waynescott799: ok thanks so much is last price….

    Me: The lowest I will go for is $400.00, I just posted the ad live 6 mins ago.

    Waynescott799: okay thanks hope it is in good condition

    Me: Yes it is still under warranty, What state are you in/

    Waynescott799: okay thanks I will offer you $550. including the shipping fee

    Me: Ship to where

    Waynescott799: actually am from the states but was posted to africa due to the nature of my work as a dentist doctor

    Me: Okay, So where should I send the xbox 360 to?

    Waynescott799: So you dont have an paypal account.

    Me: No, I dont do paypal, Do you have a Bank here in the states?

    Waynescott799: Can you set one up now? have drop my bank account till I come back, So I only have an account with paypal.

    Me: I never used one before.

    Waynescott799: Its fast and safe

    Me: So where should I send the xbox 360 to?

    Waynescott799: Dont you want to sell it to me after all am paying via paypal

    Me: I’ll sell it to the first person I beleive that is going to pay me first!

    Waynescott799: that means that you dont want to sell it and am offering you a good price.

    Me: Okay so what do we do next?

    Waynescott799: Just give me your paypal email address and your full name so that I can proceed on the payment now!

    Me: I dont know about this deal, it’s seems fishy so I’m going to have to pass on your offer!

    Waynescott799: OKAY DONT BOTHER BYE

    Me: BYE SCAMMER! and don’t text me anymore.

  20. Laura says:

    Very educational, just today I beleive that someone replying to an item I have on craigslist is is trying to scam me as well. From reading everyones stories on here I see several smilarities. I too received an email that started with one address and after I replied came back with a different address from the same person. My scammer was not the marine merchant man, but the same principle applied. My scammer was out of town and wanted to buy my item for another person overseas. He offered to pay me 150 dollars more than what I was asking to cover shipping overseas. He too wanted to pay by way of his paypal account. This whole thing seemed weird, for what I was selling it just seemed strange that a buyer wouldn’t want to come and look at it. I’ve sold several items on craigslist and have never been in this situation. So I told him he could send me money via western union and that once I had cash in hand only then would I go ahead and ship the item. I haven’t heard anything back yet. lol I am glad I went with my gut feeling in this situation. It’s such a shame that these people have to ruin it for all the honest people out there.
    This is a great chat forum and I am glad I found it. I hope more people continue to post here, so that we can all stay up to date on he scams going around.

    My scamers email address’s
    [email protected]
    [email protected]

    These are the two email address’s that supposely came from the same person.

  21. joe says:

    these people that are trying to scam you are getting desperate . there doing this on cell phones now .

  22. Sam says:

    I got the same paypal scam email replying to my craigslist ad. And, yes he is an oceanographer now.

    The additional red flag for me was the use of two email addresses, as stated by another person. The first email, asking if it’s still available, 10 minutes after I posted the ad, came from:

    “Michael” [[email protected]]

    The second email giving me his oceanographer spew came from:

    [email protected]

  23. sylvia says:

    [email protected] This person tried to contact me to buy an ipad offering 50 more to post to a friend saying he was out of town so could not pay personally, wanting to pay through paypal and asking for my email address. Sounded suspicious but lots of people are too gullible and will get scammed by him. How can I find the location of the address or their IP to check out the location?

  24. Steph says:

    How does the Paypal scam play out? Is the money deposited and then they dispute it? What’s the end result?

  25. Lisa Quarterman says:

    Apparently they are still at it. Here are the emails that I got from two separate addresses

    First she asked if it was till available, when I said yes, this is what I got.

    hanks for the prompt response. I’m satisfied with your advert price,am buying this item as Xmas gift for my new home but I’m requesting this transaction should be done via PayPal so the PayPal charges will be on me, if my offer is ok kindly send me your PayPal email and your name so I can make the payment right away. I’m awfully busy at work and don’t have much time around me. Please sure be to get back to me so that we can arrange for pick up as I will like the item to be picked at your residence/ location, so no shipping will be necessary. I will appreciate it a lot if you could kindly answer these questions about it for me so I know that you’re clean and real about this.

    1:Are you the first owner of it?
    2:Why are you selling it?
    3.Does it has any fault affecting it?
    4.Can you send me general close up pictures as i will be unable to come look at it in person and so that i can have a better look?

    Then, I replied with my answers and she wrote:

    Ok, thanks for the mail,as soon as i receive your paypal email address i will effect the payment asap, you will receive a notification receipt email from paypal after i sent the payment which will give you instructions and procedures to follow in getting your funds credited to your account and also you can easily transfer the money to your bank account or credit card. as soon as the funds reflect on your paypal account……

    Do get back to me now with your paypal email address and full name so i can proceed with the payment asap.

    I did tell her that I would send an invoice from Paypal but I needed her email and she sent me this [email protected].

    My item is not shippable and she has to come to my home to get it. What does she have to gain by getting an invoice from me?? Can they get into my account??

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