Don't Waste Your Money: Signs of a Craigslist scam

Don't Waste Your Money: Signs of a Craigslist scam
(Source: RNN)

(WTOL) - Many of us put used items up for sale on Craigslist, hoping to find a buyer. So, how could one man end up losing more than $2,000 selling his car?

Harry Harphant was trying to sell his 2001 Honda Prelude for $3,000 when he was taken for an unexpected ride.

"A man named Bruce Michaels contacted me by text, and asked if the car was still available," he said. "I told him it was."

Through a string of text messages, Harphant was told that the potential buyer was in South Carolina and very interested in buying the Prelude. In addition, he wanted the car shipped to him.

Then the buyer agreed to send a check for $5,000 to cover the price of the car, plus shipping.

"He said he would send me a check for $5,450, of which $2,450 of that would go back for shipping," he said.

When the check showed up, Harphant says he deposited it into his bank account, waited a couple of days to make sure it cleared, then wired $2,400 to the shipper.

Everything seemed to pan out until he logged onto his account the next day and discovered the check had actually bounced.

"My bank said the funds were no good, everything bounced at that point," he said.

In addition to being out the $2,400, he was hit with $130 in overdraft fees from the bounced check.

This can happen when you are selling or even buying on Craigslist.

Don't Waste Your Money:

  • When using Craigslist, deal with local people only, who you can meet in person.
  • Never, ever accept a check for more than an item is worth.
  • Never wire anyone money for "shipping," legal fees, or anything else.

Harphant's family has lost a year's worth of savings.

"I have got two kids at the house, and it doesn't take it just out of my hands, it also takes it out of their mouths," he said.

One small bit of consolation: after we got involved, his bank agreed to refund the $130 in overdraft fees he incurred.  But there is no way of ever recovering the money wired to a scammer.

Pay attention to the signs of a rip-off so you don't end up on the losing end of a deal.

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