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. MIKE PETTI says:

    I am selling a 1988 Chevy dually on craigslist.
    I get a text from 2025738579 saying “Hello do you still have the 1988 duall for sale? AM seriously interested in buying it and I think that this is a fair asking price. Currently I am at sea right now(I am a marine engineer for the navy) but I really want this as a surprise for my son to handle it for. I do not want to let him know anything about this until it gets delivered to him. First, I do have some basic questions. I would like to know why you are selling this item. Also, what is the condition of this item. considering that I am”
    I reply ” It’s a really fair price. I expect it to sell soon. I’m selling it because I want to sell it. It’s a decent truck. It will need a crank kit.”
    He replies “Alright am ok with the condition am very interested in buying it kindly get back to me with your paypal email id as for me to proceed with the payment and also get back to me with your address for the pick up company to come for the pick up ones i send the money Thanks”
    I reply “I don’t use pay pal. cash only sorry. Too many scammers. I would hate to think what would happen to you if you scam me…..P.S. your spelling is terrible for a Navy engineer.”

  2. Joni says:

    thank you so much for this information. I am having an Estate Sale and my sister put somee of the bigger items on paypal. I got a very similar email on a table. what is the condition, why selling, original owner. When I mentioned there was a scratch on the glass and offered to send a photo, the reply was, “that is OK I am OK with your asking price, if you don’t mind I can only pay through paypal due to my work”, also he was to have his agent come pick it up. I was then sent a link. I responded that I needed references or his businesses to validate who he is, that paypal recommend I do this. He responded he wasn’t a business man. Too many red flags. I offered to hold the item so he could get “his agent cash”. No response! Thank you to everyone who posted their stories.

  3. Dri says:

    This paypal/craiglist scam just happened to me !

    Two days ago, I posted on craiglist that I was selling an ipad 2 for $360. The next day someone texted and was interested in buying the ipad for the asking price which was $360 and was willing to pay $150 for shipping since she cannot meet with me in person. She also said that she is going to pay through paypal since she is in Tulsa because she is part of US Marine and wanting to send this Ipad to his friend Alex John at Nigeria.

    I said yes I have a paypal account. She asked for my email address so she can pay it through paypal. Next thing I know I got 2 emails from paypal saying that Ms.Sandra Kaka paid me $510. However this transaction does not appear in any of my history paypal account. I also got an email about me sending the tracking number to paypal and as soon as I ship the ipad and send them the tracking number, the payment will show up in my history. The lady kept texting me asking me if I already send it because paypal charge her $150 for the shipping.(she did this numerous times). Im not sure how paypal works because I just made an account recently. I also got an email from paypal again saying that they already deducted $150 from Ms.Sandra and that I should ship the package or else the FBI will come get me! So I went to USPS to ship the ipad to Nigeria, and the lady working there said to be careful about sending packages to Nigeria because there are mostly scams.But I was in need of money to pay for my summer school so I still paid and shipped it and also texted her that I already mailed the ipad. I got home and searched about craiglist/paypal ipad Nigeria scam and a lot of stories popped out about these scammers. So I hurriedly went back to USPS and got my ipad back.

    Later I texted her that how come she wants to buy my ipad for $510 considering that she can buy a new one for the same price or even cheaper. She said that she is very busy with work and have no time to buy one and send one to her friend. Also her number shows that it is from Tennessee when she said she’s from Tulsa.

    SCAM SCAM ! She was so desperate for me to mail it to Nigeria!

    • Jimmy says:

      I just got one similar to yours. Just posted some shoes online and a doctor told me he was buying them for his girlfriend first. He wanted me to ship them. I had them listed for $200 and he was willing to pay me $350 to ship them. I said ok and was researching prices from usps to the republic of Benin. Then said the shoes are for his daughter. Gave the man my paypal address and shortly received two emails saying the exact same thing. The note said these are for my son. I logged into my account and no payment. I called paypal and they assured me it was a scam and not to send them any package. Once I hung up the phone with paypal I notice the emails where from”pay-pal” and my early emails from buying stuff with my actual account stated “PayPal”. I knew it was to good to be true. I text the person back and said sorry no deal. I called him out and they never replied. PayPal told me not to worry since they had my email address they cannot get into my account.

    • amanda says:

      Im going through that right now with a sandrakaka….thank god im investigating first,,,but its the same…with fbi and everything

  4. bobby says:

    I just got this enail Thanks, im just asking about it to make sure its in good condition as
    im buying it for my cousin as a surprise and he doesn’t know about it,
    so can you assure me i will not be disappointed? also no shipment
    involved as i have a mover that will come for it.Im okay with the
    price and condition , I can only pay you via one of the fastest and
    secure way to pay online (PayPal)..Do you have a paypal account? Let
    me know asap so i can arrange the payment through PayPal. my shipper
    will be coming to pick it up as soon as the payment clears into your
    account . Await your reply

    • bobby says:

      I almost fell fo this I was selling a crock on creags list. I belive it is a scam,to catch trusting sellers they give a fake address and say it was never shipped pay pay takes the money out of your account and you don’t have a leg to stand on.

  5. Ryan says:

    I can’t believe people really fall for this stuff, put your self in there shoes would u buy a item off craiglist used for the same price as new sight unseen. Our government spends lots of money trying to catch these people. That’s bullshit, if your dumb enough to fall for it u dee serve to lose your money.

  6. John says:

    This was fun. Have fun with your scammer! (Notice how I raise the price with every text) lol! :)
    Scammer: wanna buy your Nikon D200 DSLR Camera – $500
    Me: Ok. Cool
    Where are you located?
    Scammer: i live at sd i want to buy it for my cousin in the college, kindly let me know if you can ship it out as a birthday gift if i send you the money upfront
    Me: Sorry, I don’t have PayPal. If you’ll just send cash to my P.O. box, I’ll ship it all to you right away.
    Scammer: you can create one Its very easy.just log on to http://www.paypal. com and create one for your self and as soon as you do send me the email you used in creating it and i will send you the money.then when you get it you will be able to move it to either your bank account or credit card or use it online
    Me: Nah. I would rather use cash. That way you will be protected against scammers and hackers who get your information online. Just send $550 cash to my box, then I will deliver the camera and accessories. :)
    Scammer: i know you might be skeptic about this. but i want to assure you that this is safe and secure.PayPal is 100% safe and secure and they secure all transaction made through them that is why i am only willing to pay this money amount through them.they also keep records of all transaction so that it can be traced.its also a trusted site
    Me: I can also be trusted. I was a Boy Scout and a Soldier in the Army.
    I also keep track of all my transactions, and provide timely receipts. I’m 100% safe and secure.
    I’m trying to protect you here. Help me help you, bro.
    Just mail $600 to my PO Box, and this deal is done, baby. :)
    Scammer: sorry no deal
    Me: Come on, now. You’re busting my balls here. Okay, for you since it’s a gift, make it $575, and I’ll deliver it in person.
    Scammer: send me your PayPal email i will send you the money
    Me: No paypal buddy. This is for your own good. Certain agencies monitor my transactions. It would be much safer for you if you just sent 650 in cash to the P.O.Box, and then we can meet in the location we agreed upon in the briefing, and the deal will be done.
    (15 minutes later)
    Me: Hello???

  7. Carole McAbe says:

    Just had someone going by [email protected] send me an identical letter to one Bobby (above) received. Just did not feel right so researched. Thanks for the information, it saved us thousands..

    • dana says:

      I got a similar attempt. Was from “[email protected]” but the name indicated was Jessica Scott… hmmm. Rather comical actually. First clue from first e-mail: How much are you asking? Well it’s posted right on the ad so why would this hole need to know that. I assured them I wouldn’t do paypal as I could hear it coming. Then there’s the not knowing what it is. “… and look over it” Clue 3: Horrible English. Clue 4: buying site unseen. Clue 5: Can’t call too busy with some job or location. Clue 6: Still wants to use paypal and here’s the run down to do that. Clue 7 Can’t pick it up will send an “agent” to pick it up… oh BTW what is your name and contact info? Clue 8: need your e-mail associated to your paypal account. Clue 9: “I’m buying this for my dad” Clue 10 offering 250.00 to not sell this to anyone else until the deal is done. I probably should have kept playing so as to tie up their time a little and that would be that much more time they wouldn’t have to do this with someone else who hasn’t heard of this bit, but I tired of the stupidity and suggested that it’s too bad they don’t live in a country where they deal with thieves by cutting off their hand, That way they wouldn’t be able to type and try to rip people off online like this in the future. I continued with more non-politically correct ideas and language that I care not to share here. :) End of discussion. Nigeria should NOT be able to access the internet. They seems to have the ethics of a weasel. I got a kick out of the guy that was suggesting they send him cash to a PO box. I wish I had read this before I pulled the rug on this routine. What illiterate morons.

  8. Rachel says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! Sandra Kaka just emailed me about my posting on Craigslist and her whole story about “being in the military and needing me to ship the product to her friend via ups air mail” seemed a little off so I looked her email address up and this article came up. So glad I found this in time!

  9. Misael A. says:

    also just today I received some text messages from Sandra kaka wanting to buy my item and would pay $150 for the shipping to her friend in Nigeria glad I saw this. Beware of those scammers.

  10. Stephanie DeMaria says:

    Just received my scam email…afterwards, I looked up ‘Craigslist, Paypal scams and this site came up and I saw all these posts!! Thanks! Anyways, here is another one of the ‘scammers’ emails, this one to myself who is selling a John Deere:

    My name is SrA John Matt, a senior airman(E4) in Colorado, which makes
    it very hard for me to make phone calls, I won’t be able to come your
    way to view it but I have a hauler who will come for the pickup after
    payment had been cleared so please get back to me with your home
    address, asking price, cell number and paypal email because i will be
    making the payment via PayPal as that is the only payment option I can
    access from here I hope you understand. if you don’t have a PayPal
    account yet you can log on to for simple sign up

    • James says:

      John Matt John M and several Google email address used are still actively Phising Craigslist as of today.

  11. Dale says:

    *My husband received a text asking if “it” (didn’t state boat which is what we posted on Craigslist) was still for sale eventhough he literally posted it night before. My husband responded back to text, “yes it was still for sale.” The following email was sent immediately to my husband:

    Thanks for the mail. My name is Amy Merchant,I’m just asking about it to make sure its in good condition as im buying it for my First son as a surprise gift and he doesn’t know about it, so can you assure me i will not be disappointed? also no shipment involved as i have a mover that will come for it. Im okay with the price and condition , I can only pay you via one of the fastest and secure way to pay online (PayPal).. Do you have a PayPal account? Let me know asap so i can arrange the payment through PayPal. my shipper will be coming to pick it up as soon as the payment clears into your account . So if you’re ready to move forward, just fill out the info below so I can work everything out!

    Your PayPal e-Mail Address:
    PayPal Acct Name:
    Firm Price:
    Home Address/ Pickup location Info:
    Cell Phone Number#:
    Goods Details:

    Hope to read back from you

    *We almost fell for it but so glad read posts about scams!

    • Leo says:

      Just got almost identical comment from air force person serving the nation. Will see if can have some fun with it. The funny generic email give away here is that I am selling an oven and person wants the mover to handle the title. I guess, I will need to obtain title for my oven now :-)

  12. Liz Holzer says:

    I am just greedy enough to have almost fallen for this, but everything about my exchange with a would-be buyer (scammer!) sounded so darned fishy. I mean, what craigslist shopper is gonna pay $800 for a chair without even looking at it in person? And this guy’s insistence that paypal is the only way to go and I should get an account NOW because it’s safe and it will only take me five minutes and blah blah blah hurry hurry hurry… I’m the dumbest, most trusting person in the world, but even I knew that this was not right. Once I told the guy to lay off, I googled craigslist paypal scam and found your site. I feel so much better now. Thanks.

  13. Just1Spark says:

    Heres the number of the latest dirt bags trying to scam me. 19787737834

    Same ole deal. I have a paint booth for sale. Not sure what some scammer is going to do with a paint booth. but it was the same deal. “send me your paypal address. I will send money and have item picked up. I am currently on assignment for work. So I will have delivery pick it up”. Plus their english was horrible.

    I usually just text back “Kill yourself”.

  14. Ken says:

    Here are the latest scam phone #: 732-527-3719; 812-213-0214; 405-261-9904; 424-238-7590.
    Loved the one about being an AA Flight Attendant named Kate. I’m sure she a lot of time to play drums ! ! ! That was 732-527-3719.

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