Fighting Back Against Craigslist Money Order Scammers

Who here has had a run-in with the Craigslist Money Order Scam?

A quick recap of how this scam works: Seller puts a sale listing on Craigslist. Scammer responds (usually via email, although occasionally via text, as we’ll see below) showing interest in the item. Scammer offers to send Seller a money order for more than the cost of the item. Seller is supposed to deposit the money order, subtract the cost of the item, and wire the remaining amount back to Scammer.

The money order is fake, but it’ll take the bank a while to figure that out. This means that, essentially, Scammer has sent Seller 0 dollars and Seller has wired Scammer real money. If Seller didn’t have enough money in his/her bank account to cover the wire transfer (assuming the money order would cover it), Seller gets stuck with even more problems. To top it off, Seller can also get in trouble with the bank for trying to deposit a fake money order.

Well, today Rebecca Watson at Skepchick writes about how she fought back against this scam.

Rebecca got the scam contact when she tried to sell a sofa on Craigslist. She knew by the second message that she was dealing with a money order scammer:

Thanks for the prompt response to my mail. I will be buying this from you, so please kindly withdraw the advert from C.LIST. My husband will be overnighting the payment asap but he will be paying with a certified check from his Bank and it will deliver to you via United Parcel Service (UPS), so I’ll need you to provide me with the following information to facilitate the mailing of the check… And am offering additional $50 with the original price to have this asap.

A lot of people would just stop engaging with the scammer at this point, but Rebecca sends over a defunct P.O. Box address and replies:

Great. I can’t wait to get this absolutely real check and cash it and spend the money!

The scammer assumedly sends over the fake check (which, of course, Rebecca never receives) and then begins to harass Rebecca over both email and text asking about the status of the money Rebecca is supposed to wire back to her:

+14124236188: Hello, Are you there with me Rebecca ?? 2:35 AM
+14124236188: Good morning, Are you there? 7:54 AM
+14124236188: Hello, Are you there Rebecca? 10:17 AM

Rebecca continues to bait the scammer, passing along fake Western Union wire transfer numbers for the scammer to check. The scammer escalates her messaging to the dreaded ALL CAPS.


I’m not going to reprint the entire conversation here, but you should go read it on Skepchick because it is beautiful. After the final endgame, Rebecca sends over her check-and-mate message:

Linda, I haven’t heard back from you so I forwarded your information and Jamaal Griffin’s to the FBI so that they can investigate this further and find your money! I’m so sorry for the hassle!

Oh, Rebecca. Nathan Ford would be so proud.

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