The fake check scam

Last fall I listed my son’s mountain bike for sale on Craigslist. Within minutes I had a live one on my hands!

According to the description,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 on the check.
Full Physical Address: Not P.O.BOX
City, State and Zip Code
Home & Cell Phone to contact you
Total amount for the item

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 $30 so that you can hold it for me till the check reach
you.

Best Regards

When you hook a scammer, it’s important to set the hook. If you’re too timid, they’ve already moved on to their next target. Here’s how I responded.

Hi Sara,

I have two people interested in looking at the bike next weekend, but you were among the first to respond so I’d like to work with you.

The bike belongs to my father-in-law, so make the check to him. His name is Lawrence Ellison.

Please mail to

deletia

I look forward to working with you. Are you stationed at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro near San Diego?

Richard

My question about MCAS El Toro is a shibboleth, but she ignored it.

After some more back and forth, “Sara Leigely” FedExed the check (in my name, not Ellison’s) to me. The selling price of the bike was $400.


Fake Check

I received this email shortly after; note the instructions to wire $1650 to a Western Union account for the “movers”:

Hello ,
i just want to thank you for the honest and trustworthy you are having
towards this transaction and i want to bring it to your notice that
the payment would deliver to you On Sat 10/12/2013 via fedex Currier
service and
here is the tracking number provided(165454515009854 ) so i would want
you to follow my instruction on what to do about the shipping freight
and hand ling’s and the pick up arrangement .So once you have the
payment with you now just get it cashed or get it deposited and deduct
your actual amount plus extra $100 for the trust and honest you are
having and get the remaining fund send Via Western Union International
to the shipper information below for them to come for the pick up in
your location since their freight and hand ling’sfee is been included
with your money cos they have some other items to pick up for me in
some locations so here is their information to get the funds send Via
Western Union :

Receiver Name=========Andrew Werner
Receiver Address======43 south mallard ave
city==================Selden
state=================NY
zip code==============11784

This his how you gonna handle the money…

The check is for $2 150

$400 was meant for the (mountain bike)
$100 was meant for your Running Around
$1650 (Mover) Via Western Union

Western Union Charges will be deducted from the left $1650 and the
rest would be send to my mover As soon as you have the money wire to
my mover and done with Western Union i want you to get back to me
with the following information after deducting Western Union money
charges…

1,Current Map Quest to your location for the pick-up
2.Sender’s Name and Address
3.Actual amount sent after Western Union charges
4.10 digit Money transfer Control Number(MTCN #)
5. Current time for the pickup.

I will be waiting for the information as soon as possible so that the
pick up would be done any time from now

I sent an email asking the shipper to pick the bike up at 70 West Hedding Street, West Wing, San Jose CA (that’s the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office). The check remains uncashed. About a week later, “Sara Leigely” sent an indignant email saying she would report me to the FBI.

.this is just to let you know that there is no problem about
all what you have been hearing all around.my transaction with you is
legit and it is 100% secure so i see no reason why the payment i sent
you at first cleared and you still hold my money with you cos the
company has called me that have you respond back to me cos they have
release the money for you some days back…But my response was that
you have never respond back ..That was what make me to get you
reported to FBI and what the authority gave me is 24 hours if you did
not provide the western union details of sending detail to Andrew..You
will be caught and charges for scamming pple money online…So what so
ever explanation or Advice you are listening all around is yours but
mine is that this morning i am giving the FBI that you have not sent
my money that u were giving me week..who knows before that a week
reach..you would have ran away from your address….They can take it
up with u any time from now..

My advise to you is that..I want u to locate a western union around
you and get Andrew money send asap and u get back to me with immediate
effect to provide that to FBI for their confirmation that you have
sent the money.

What a hoot. I have no idea if the email is still good but feel free to email [email protected]

How does the fake check scam work?

You’ll see the check I received looks like a cashier’s check. U.S. banks are required to make funds available from official checks within a day of deposit. You deposit the check and pull $1650 out to wire to Western Union as instructed. Scammers play tricks with routing numbers to delay routing, but eventually it comes back to your bank as a bad check, and you’re out for the entire value of the check.

How can you protect yourself? This scam plays on greed and naivete. Anybody who sends an official check for way too much money in the mail to ship a nondescript bike across the country should immediately be suspicious. It’s as simple as that.

In this particular case, note also that the routing number on the check is invalid. If you buy or sell on Craigslist, you should read Craigslist scams page.

34 Comments

  • Anonymous
    January 15, 2014 - 4:10 pm | Permalink

    This scam gets everywhere. I first learned about the format as a hooker, when I started getting emails from foreign travellers who just had to book me while staying in my unspecified country and wanted to pay in advance.

  • Anonymous
    January 15, 2014 - 4:22 pm | Permalink

    What would have happened to the bike had you shipped it?

  • January 15, 2014 - 4:37 pm | Permalink

    I’m pretty sure there’s no actual shipper involved in this scam.

    If there is, it might be cute to try to attach a GPS with long life battery like they do in the movies and track down where the bike ends up!

  • January 15, 2014 - 4:49 pm | Permalink

    All my Craigslist postings say that I’ll accept cash in person only, and that I will only respond to emails that include a time they would like to see the bike. Anyone unable to follow those simple directions won’t get a response from me.

    However, I nearly bought a bike from an email list that was about $700, with the seller intending to ship it. I have no idea how to make sure to do this properly though, since the first step would be me paying, in hopes that they ship it. If anyone has advice on how to do a transaction like that safely, I’m interested to hear it.

  • January 15, 2014 - 7:03 pm | Permalink

    it’s nice to know i wasn’t the only one that wanted to play. I was renting a room in my house and got contacted by a scammer who wanted to mail me the first month’s rent PLUS enough money for me to pay shippers to ship her BMW car to my house. I of course got the check and didn’t cash it. When they got back to me eventually wondering about why i didn’t send the rest of the money to the shipper, I told them i took the check to my bank and THEY said it was a scam. Then the scammer went away.

    there was no way on earth i was going to rent out a room in my house to someone i had never met (and who neglected to answer my questions, just like your guy)

  • Adam
    January 17, 2014 - 9:33 pm | Permalink

    My best advice – besides the usual stuff like cash only, meet in a public place, etc – is to put a tag line at the end of the ad saying that in our email you must type the word (blank). I use Ice Cream. This way any email you get without that word you just delete instantly. If they are just spamming you they wouldn’t write it. If they’re real they weren’t serious enough about it to read the ad close enough. Either way game over.

  • May 1, 2014 - 7:43 am | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing this! Had the same exact message sent to me re: a watch I’m selling. Just took the text of the email and Googled. Grateful your site came up first. :)

  • Anonymous
    June 6, 2014 - 12:35 pm | Permalink

    OMG, Dealing with the same “Marine” as I type. Just received a check for nearly $2000 for a $375 item that could be purchased new and shipped for free for $900. Good to know what’s coming when I don’t ship the item. Why can’t these folks be put out of business.

  • David Allison
    June 10, 2014 - 11:14 am | Permalink

    Same story here, but for a $200 woodstove. Had the scammer make the check out to “Hugh Jass” and FedEx to local police station. When scammer sent me the tracking number, I noted that the FedEx package was refused. Now waiting for his response. Maybe I’ll see how many times I can get him to fedex the bogus check.

  • June 10, 2014 - 12:40 pm | Permalink

    @David: Now that is pretty funny. I considered having the check made out to our local District Attorney with the mail sent to the consumer protection section at the DA’s office.

  • Anonymous
    June 26, 2014 - 10:33 am | Permalink

    Received a scam email from this person and their email Be on the lookout!

    My reply to Ron Taylor: I trust in god and CASH ONLY! As ad clearly states.

    Ron Taylor wrote:

    Thanks for getting back to me, so sorry i couldn’t respond early i had to visit a relatives that lost their daughter. i just want to let you know that am okay with the condition and price of the item .I am ready to make instant purchase. My mode of payment would be in Certified Bank Check via Postal service Express mail or by UPS courier service

    I’ll arrange for a local pick up as soon as you get the check cashed and have your money in hand , I would have really love to come for the viewing but due to my work frame that might not be possible and i promise everything will go smoothly.

    Kindly get back to me with your

    -Full Name
    -Full Address Apt # suite #
    -including your cell phone so i can instruct my financier agent to make out the payment to you .

    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.

    Looking forward to read from you
    God Bless
    Ron Taylor

  • JB
    August 4, 2014 - 2:44 am | Permalink

    Me as well just today from ROBIN HILL

    Hello,
    Thanks for getting back to me, so sorry i couldn’t respond early i had to visit a relatives that lost their daughter. i just want to let you know that am okay with the condition and price of the item .I am ready to make instant purchase. My mode of payment would be in Certified Bank Check via Postal service Express mail or by UPS courier service

    I’ll arrange for a local pick up as soon as you get the check cashed and have your money in hand , I would have really love to come for the viewing but due to my work frame that might not be possible and i promise everything will go smoothly.

    Kindly get back to me with your

    -Full Name
    -Full Address,Apt # suite #
    -including your cell phone so i can instruct my financier agent to make out the payment to you .
    -Please reconfirm the Amount for the item;

    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.

    Looking forward to read from you
    Mr Robin

    Its too bad that the doj’s 1st order of business is going after anyone that has large amounts of money they can confiscate instead of protecting consumers 1st.

  • November 20, 2014 - 8:41 am | Permalink

    Wow. Just got commitments with nearly identical scripts from Cali and NY for a $500 box of collectible playing cards. Both texts were managed by Chimes Mobile, coincidentally.
    Who’d pay that much without a straight up hand off to see the product for authenticity~? 😉

  • d. Arnett
    November 22, 2014 - 6:59 am | Permalink

    I just had the same situation happen to me, only it was to be someones personal business assistant and they sent the check. and something just didn’t feel right. What should I do with the check. I say trash it, but is there something else I should do with it.

  • January 10, 2015 - 8:08 am | Permalink

    sharon Elliott [email protected]
    To me Today at 5:03 AM
    I really appreciate your quick response to my text.I’m okay with the price and
    the condition pasted on Craigslist. I really wish to be there to see the
    item but i don’t have chance cause I’m a very busy woman. My mode of
    payment would be in certified check drawn from a local Banks. And am offering
    additional $50 with the original price to have this asap..

    Name to be on the payment………..
    Address to mail the check to………….
    Cell phone # to contact you …………….
    Final Asking price……………….

    I will make arrangements for the pick up as soon as you have your
    check clear, due to my work frame and my Kids, I will not be able to
    come with the cash and pick it up myself , so my husband will mail the
    check and have someone pick up the item after the check clear.,
    Reference to your CL post am completely satisfied with it and the
    payment will be deliver within 24hours…

    THANKS…..

    ———
    I THOUGHT THIS LOOKED WAY TOO Odd and “foreign” to be ACTUALLY .. Authentic ……..
    This is for a $50 Bracelet .. that is Out of Production .. That was About that Same Price NEW ….
    haha .. I May NOT Be a Rocket Scientist .. but Man .. I did not just come around the block YESTERDAY ! ..
    Nuts ! . I wanna get Their “CHECK” and I’ll Sit on it also ! ..
    I will GOOGLE the Routing # and Find out what “BANK” it is Drawn Off Of ..
    — Thanks for the INFO on Here .. Good & Funny Stuff ! ..
    Tim ..

  • keep me anonymous
    February 5, 2015 - 8:58 pm | Permalink

    Happened to me today via CL as well. I wonder how these people find it in themselves to work this angle in life. Are these from Nigeria or just good ‘ole American scammers?

  • Rick
    April 13, 2015 - 12:35 pm | Permalink

    When I get a text or email from the scammers I tell them they can have device for free if they go to ExploreGod.com and they never respond

  • Anonymous
    May 19, 2015 - 4:49 am | Permalink

    Hi,
    I just had this scam done on me. Luckily I didn’t fall for it though. I went on Craigslist looking for a personal assistant job, well I applied at a few, and this one got back to me. He sent a check for $2,000, told me to keep $350, and wire $1650 to an orphanage. I got the check before he even told me what to do with it, so I called the company on the check, and they told me it’s been going on alot with them.

  • abflagsgahf
    June 6, 2015 - 10:41 am | Permalink

    I wish there was a way to actually cash the check, have them be responsible for it, and still keep your item. lol

  • Susie
    June 11, 2015 - 7:57 pm | Permalink

    I have not sold much on Craigslist and have not paid much attention to scams but I had listed a child’s rocker. I am an older lady so not up to date on this sort of thing. This is the email I got:
    Thanks for the prompt response to text. I will be buying this from
    you, kindly withdraw the advert from C.LIST and considered it sold.
    My husband will be overnight 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.

    Name to be on the payment………..
    Address to mail the check to………….
    Final Asking price……………….
    Cell phone # to contact you …………….

    I will make arrangements for the pick up as soon as you have your
    check clear, due to my work frame and my Kids, I will not be able to
    come with the cash and pick it up myself , so my husband will mail the
    check and have someone pick up the item after the check clear.,
    Reference to your CL post am completely satisfied with it and the
    payment will be deliver within 24hours.. God Bless

    Unfortunately, I was stupid and thought it was legit so gave them my address. But later, the more I thought about it, I had a bad feeling. So after googling I see I am being scammed. But now they are sending a check. I just received this email:

    Hello,
    Am sorry for the late response, My husband just informed now that the payment has been sent Via USPS with the tracking # 9470101699320015037861 and he included the shipment funds in the amount on the check for the mover to come for the pick up. And you are to deduct your money $200 as agreed and additional $50 for keeping the item for me and your running around and then give the rest balance to the mover coming for the pick up, I hope i can trust you with my money? We have some other items around your location needed for our new apartment with the mover will be picking up everything together but pls i will need your honest and trust and your updating to end up this transaction..because this is our first time on the list. I will get the mover information Tomorrow morning and get back to you so that you will know who will be coming for the pick up.

    So I would love to know what I should do. Should I contact my police department? Should I play along with them? I would appreciate any advice.

  • June 11, 2015 - 8:05 pm | Permalink

    hey, if they contact you again, tell them that you spoke to the police about this and that they advised you that it is a scam. The check they are sending you is bogus. rip it up.

  • June 12, 2015 - 7:11 am | Permalink

    when you mention the police, they go away..

  • Susie
    June 12, 2015 - 7:14 am | Permalink

    ThanKs for responding. I just got another email today giving me details for sending money to the movers. What a joke! So it does no good to actually go to the authorities to try to get these people?

  • June 12, 2015 - 7:24 am | Permalink

    what could the police do? they’d tell you not to respond to the emails.

  • Susie
    June 12, 2015 - 7:33 am | Permalink

    Ok, thanks! Just wish I could get them.

  • Lindsay P.
    July 28, 2015 - 11:18 pm | Permalink

    Reading your article made me sick because the email I received is literally identical to yours, only my info of course where your sons bike is. I cannot believe I fell for it at first and sent them my name and address! I figured what could I lose if he’s sending me a certified check up front? Scary how easy scammers can deceive you. Thank you for your article, I emailed them (mine goes by the name James Richard) that I did research and realized they are frauds and told them not to send a check or contact me again. Thanks for helping me learn a valuable lesson before it was too late! :)
    -Lindsay

  • Susie
    July 29, 2015 - 8:21 am | Permalink

    I am glad I could help. I blogged about my experience if you are interested in reading. And you do not have to worry that they have your address or phone number, I never heard back from them.

    http://rubiesrunning.blogspot.com/2015/07/craigslist-scam.html?spref=fb

  • Lindsay P.
    July 29, 2015 - 8:33 am | Permalink

    That’s very good to know! He did email me again attempting to still send me a check with the whole story about needing to have me pay the shipper by transferring money via western union…everything just like is warned online. I sent back again to stop contacting me and that it was awful to take advantage of people and that he’d receive no money from me. Hopefully that’s the end if it. This problem is sad because like most fraud it preys on the inexperienced and naive. Please continue to try and educate others so as to avoid such a senseless scam! I’m sure others will be grateful too, even if they don’t tell you. Thanks again! :)

  • Susie
    July 29, 2015 - 1:06 pm | Permalink

    You are welcome! We just need to get it out there for others to hear our stories so that can put a stop to them. Unfortunately, we live in a world that these scumbags will just try a new tactic.

  • Anonymous
    August 1, 2015 - 11:09 am | Permalink

    I’m in the middle of what I believe to be a scam like this and others posted…is there any way to catch those involved..set them up??? Who would I call..or contact?

  • August 1, 2015 - 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Thanks all for all of the recent discussion. The recent comment thread began with “What should I do?”

    Options:

    1. Ignore it and they’ll go away.
    2. If you’re in a playful mood, tease them a bit like I did. Although the risk of any blowback is likely low, it’s best to avoid disclosing personal info. I use the address and phone number of the local District Attorney’s office as my contact. I also use a throwaway email address.
    3. Report to the authorities in the hopes they might do something. Craigslist offers suggestions at https://www.craigslist.org/about/scams

  • Susie
    August 1, 2015 - 7:23 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Richard. Sadly, there is not much you can do to catch them. Report it to Craigslist. Otherwise, I would ignore unless like Richard said you want to play with them. I used the Crime Stoppers local phone # and the police department address. They never responded after I tried to play with them and the check they said was on its way, never showed up. I think the best we can do is alert as many as you can to this scam so that no one will get taken.

  • Anonymous
    August 2, 2015 - 10:09 am | Permalink

    Got a fraud offer on craigslist today from “Richard Colley” @843-214-2006 for real estate for sale. He claims he will “pickup” the item after the “certified” check clears!

  • Anonymous
    August 19, 2015 - 10:15 am | Permalink

    I just got a text from a Richard Colley wanting to but my car site unseen!!! I’m asking a good price for the car also and he didn’t try to talk me down. Tnx for the site

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