Forgive the distraction…I couldn’t help it. I get frustrated when I see these things in the world I live (interwebs).
My wife and I were in the market for a truck. We decided on a particular model and started watching local Craigslist postings. One came across our eyes that we simply couldn’t believe…it was a recent model truck with 24K miles and was listed for less than half of what others were listing. Both of us knew either one of two things happened: 1) major typo in the guys listing or 2) scam. But just in case we wanted to clarify. There was no phone number/name listed (scam alert 1), so we used the craigslist email. Here’s the listing in question:
Now, granted this isn’t really even the style we were looking for (pimped out rims, lowered), but if it was legit then we’d be able to turn a profit maybe :-). We knew it wasn’t though. Below is the email I sent:
Okay, what's the catch? a 24K miles 2005 loaded for $10,000?! Salvage title?
If not, does it have tow package with brake controller in cab? what is a disability package?
Then we got a reply:
Subject: Re: ford f-150 supercrew - $10200 (phoenix)
From: "Hickman Bobby, Tech Sgt." [email protected]
Thank you for your interest in my car.This is a 2005 FORD F150 SUPERCREW
4x4, 8 Cylinder 5.4 Liter, Gasoline engine,Automatic
Transmission,Non-Smoker,clean title!! The car has only 24,000 miles on
it,VIN# is : 1FTPW14515FB48400 .
Here you can find more pictures of the car:
(if the above link does not work copy and paste it into a new web browser
The car has been well taken care of, always kept in the garage.Flawless
exterior/interior condition,no scratches and no dents.It has never been
involved in an accident.The engine starts and drives like new and the paint
looks great.It comes with US clear title which will be signed and notorized
in the buyer's name.Have all keys and manuals.
I'm an US Air Force Tech. Sgt. currently stationed in Germany.The car is
here with me. It was bought in the US and shipped to Europe, but it was
never permanently registered here, the car is still registered in the US.The
car is for sale locally as well, but there are slim chances of this to
happen. In order to be able to register this car here in Germany the buyer
would have to pay very high import/custom taxes that will double the price.
So I decided to sell the car back in the US.
The price is $10,200.00 including shipping from Germany to the US and
delivery to your home address.
So if you decide to buy this car or need further information please get back
to me as soon as possible.
Hmm, US military (scam alert 2 – playing off patriotism), car is overseas (scam alert 3), still registered in US (scam alert 4), and cost includes shipping back to US (scam alert 5). At this point we’re at defcon 4 with scam alert. We chuckled and continued our search. But remembering how much fun I had reading Ebola Monkey Man (NSFW) I decided to have some fun. I mean, this person wasted my time, why can’t I waste his right? :-). Since the posting had a note about ‘disability equipped’ I further inquired:
Can you send me pictures of the disability access package you have?
To which he responded:
The car is in excellent condition,no mechanical or electrical problems.It drives very very smooth.
I will have the car shipped from Germany by an US Air Force cargo plane so there won't be any additional shipping costs. Also I will arrange for a truck to transport the car to your home address or, if you like, you can pick it up from the nearest airport in your area. The shipping will take 6-8 days, depending on your location.Shipping will be door to door,to your home address,somebody must be home when the car arrives to sign for the reception.The car will arrive with all the papers and documents required for registration and the keys. The clear title and the bill of sale will be already signed by me.
The payment will be done through eBay.You will send the money to eBay and as soon as the payment is confirmed they will notify me to proceed with the shipping. I will ship the car, you will receive it and you will have 5 days for inspection, both the car and the paperwork and the option to accept or reject the car.The inspection time period will begin as soon as you sign for receiving the car at your requested address.During all this time eBay will hold the money into a trust account.So, this is not a blind transaction,you can see the car before decided to buy it.If you are satisfied with the car and decide to keep it you inform eBay about this and they will release the money to me. If the car is not as advertised and decide not to keep it eBay will refund you the money, no questions asked, and shipping back the car will be my concern. I think this is more than fair for the both of us.Please take in to consideration that I will get paid only after you receive the car and make sure everything is as agreed.
If you agree with these terms and you have the money, send me your full name and the address where you want the car to be delivered to and I will initiate the transaction with eBay. You will receive all the transaction details from them.
I will appreciate an answer as soon as possible.
I’m loving the start of this because he’s ignoring my inquiry. Oh, and ebay…we’re now at defcon 6 people. But of course I kept it going:
Can you please send me pictures of the disability package that you listed in your listing?
Also, where is the vehicle currently registered? In which state in the US?
Quick response this time (perhaps only an hour):
The car does not have any disability .It is fully equipped.
Hmm, he doesn’t get it, okay, time to have more fun.
Thanks for the quick reply Bobby.
Your listing says "disability equipped" in the description. I'm trying to understand what that is. I'm assuming it means something to do with equipment that allows for a wheelchaired person to drive it easily and it stores the chair automatically in the truck bed. I'm not disabled, but I am thinking this might be cool in case someone with a wheelchair needs to borrow my new truck for some reason. Can you help explain to me what this means?
This sounds like a great deal and my wife and I are excited. Do you have any pictures of the radio area? I love music and want to make sure the radio is a good one. That's important to me.
For the sale, can I use something other than eBay? Isn't that for auctions only? Sorry for the question, but I've only used eBay when looking for vintage train parts for my Lionel set.
Thanks in advance for the reply and information!
And I mean the above in no offense to anyone disabled. Clearly this is a scam and he took the listing from someone else. Here’s the reply from the latest:
The car does not have any disability!!!!!!!!!!
Now I’m laughing because he doesn’t even read his own listing. My follow-up:
I know there is no disability, but in your listing you have a feature (next to power windows, etc.) that the vehicle is "disability equipped" -- is that incorrect and there is no disability equipment feature (like a wheelchair life)? I've decided if there was I wouldn't want it.
Thanks for the fast reply. I'm eager to start the transaction -- you didn't say anything about eBay either. Can't we use some other service that doesn't charge me money?
This is too great. After a while more, here’s his response.
The payment will be made through eBay. I'm under Contract with eBay which states that we can close the deal using their service.Very Important, Only after you will receive the car, eBay will release the money to me.
The money will be sent per ebay instruction and you will give the payment details only to eBay. They will verify the payment and when the money are confirmed they will notify me to proceed with the shipping process. After you receive and see that the car is the one you want, you just notify eBay to give me the money.
In order to start the deal I need YOUR FULL NAME and SHIPPING ADDRESS so I can register the transaction with eBay. They will let you know what you have to do for the payment.
Um yeah, you still haven’t answered my questions. Now I’m getting frustrated :-)
With respect, you still haven't answered my questions. Your listing talks about 'disability equipped' and you haven't explained that. Also, you haven't answered where it is registered in the US so I can make sure I can transfer the title.
I'm eager to begin the transaction, but you aren't answering my questions about the car. Does it have a full size spare tire?
After a day on this one, I think the scammer had some help – here’s a reply with my answers. Now keep in mind, I’m Tim and he’s Bobby yet this was a reply sent to me (the italics parts were in a different collor as well…cut and paste):
Is a misprint.The car is in excellent condition,no mechanical or electrical problems.The car is registered in UT.
Send me your full name and the address where you want the car to be delivered to and I will initiate the transaction with eBay. You will receive all the transaction details from them.
I will appreciate an answer as soon as possible
Dude, if you are scamming…get your folks right. I often wonder if scammers learn from others? All you have to do is read Ebola Monkey Man and you could be a better scammer I suppose. I proceeded to reply with a fake address with Nick Burns as the name to receive it and a totally made up address in Arizona. After a bit, the scammer replied:
I got your info and I will initiate the transaction through ebay,they will let you know what you have to do for the payment.Get back to me as soon as you receive their invoice.You should hear from them within 24 hours
It’s amazing to me that despite the obvious risk here that some people actually fall for this. In fact, Craigslist puts up a giant banner that specifically warns on this:
In the meantime, I set up a different GMail account and sent the scammer (via the craigslist email) a note asking if the truck was for sale. Within a day I got the EXACT reply as the first time I inquired with my real identity. I mean, c’mon who would respond to an email that was ‘[email protected]’ – seriously! In the meantime I hadn’t heard back from the ebay transaction and I responded with:
I haven’t heard anything yet and am eager to complete this sale. Please don’t tell me you sold the truck :-(
Yes, I included the emoticon for sincerity. The scammer responded that I should check my spam folder for information from eBay (ooh, the irony in that statement). I assured him nothing was there and to start it over. I instantly see this in my inbox from [email protected] (which is hilarious…go visit that site…um Google Sites…nice—I totally trust you, where do I send my money?! lol):
Like the name I provided? And the address? There is no Bartsville, AZ…and 85003 is somewhere downtown Phoenix I’m sure…holy crud man, take a moment to verify! Oh and I’m buying from Bobby Hickman, but the account holder is Harrison Macpherson!?!?
Further investigation of the “central fax number” reveals so many other scams happening like this one also claiming to be a US Army person. This is unbelievable. Seriously…there are no more defcon levels left to reach…we’ve hit scam meltdown at this point. What amazes me is that people fall for this. There are so many signs of wrong, deceit, lameness going on that I really do feel sorry for people who think these are legit!
I decided to see if I can pull an Ebola Monkey Man style picture out of this scam and send the scammer this note:
My wife is very nervous about this transaction through ebay and wants to be assured the truck is still in good condition. She wants a recent picture of the truck, with someone standing in front of it (perhaps you in your uniform?) holding a sign with the current date. That will make her more comfortable sending the money through ebay. Can you send us that picture?
I tried to convince her everything was fine, but she insists. She's a little crazy I think, but she has the money as I'm not really employed and just play computer games all day long anyway, so I have to listen to what she says.
In the meantime, over in ‘anonymous mailbox’ land, the scammer continues sending the same email about shipping via US Air Force, etc., etc. Seriously…I am just laughing that in the inbox of the scammer these messages are showing up from “Anonymous Mailbox” as the person. Unbelievable.
At this point, I have decided I don’t have any more time to waste on the guy and shot of a note to the trusting “Sgt” informing him of the fact that I believe it to be a scam based on, well, everything. Oh well, it was interesting to see this dialog and sad to know that it is successful with some folks at times.