New Craigslist scams, advance fee tricks and spam alerts: Internet Scambusters #523
Two new simple and convincing Craigslist scams lead off this
week’s Snippets issue, along with information about the latest
advance fee frauds.
We also have details of more spam messages that set out to
steal your money or upload malware onto your PC.
Plus, it’s a heartless ruse, but what exactly is a
double-dipping scam? We’ll explain — and help you avoid one.
Before we begin, you may want to spend a moment looking at
this week’s most popular articles from our other sites:
The Allure of Chocolate Cream Cheese (No, Seriously): Read on about this luscious chocolate combination treat that has caused my amazo-meter to unexpectedly go crazy!
Home Appliance Myths that Cost You Money: Before you call for service or buy replacement parts, check these myths and see if any of them apply to the home appliance you’re having problems with.
4 Great Gifts For the Person Who Already Has Everything: Here are four great gifts that will work for anyone when it seems there’s absolutely nothing they need.
Featured Holiday Articles
2012’s Top Christmas Toys: Let’s look at some other popular Christmas gifts for kids that are the “must buys” on everyone’s list this year.
Make Memories with Your Children with These Handmade Christmas Ornaments: What better way to rustle up Christmas cheer than with these handmade Christmas ornaments you can make with your children.
The X-Mas Files: Read on to learn more about why it’s perfectly legit to use the term X-mas as an abbreviation for Christmas.
Now, here we go…
Rental Car, Travelers’ Checks Used in Latest Craigslist Scams
We start with two new Craigslist scams that have surfaced in
recent months that head up this week’s special Snippets issue.
In both cases, the alleged culprits have been arrested, but
the tricks are so simple and convincing they’re likely to
surface again — something for you to be on the lookout for.
The first one targets car buyers and, as usual, the vehicle is
offered at a bargain price.
The scammer arranges to meet his victims in a parking lot with
the auto, which they test drive and are wowed by the condition.
He asks for a $500 deposit and promises to return later to
hand over the title and collect the balance — but, of course,
he never does.
In this case, the vehicle turned out to be a sparkling rental
car but it could be done with any auto.
The scammer can pretend he forgot the title documents and
demand the deposit to show you’re serious. It seems such a
bargain you just don’t want to let it slip through your
fingers, so you pay up.
Action: A title document could be forged so seeing it wouldn’t
prove anything. You need to confirm the identity of the
“owner” before handing over any cash.
Also, of course, beware of too-good-to-be true prices.
Craigslist Scam #2
In the second Craigslist scam, the victim advertised gift
cards for sale.
Because gift cards are increasingly used in place of cash for
product rebates, as well as being a favorite option for people
who don’t know what to buy others for birthday and holiday
presents, there’s a flourishing market for buying and selling
In this incident, the “buyer” offered to exchange travelers’
checks for the cards and met the victim in town.
By the time the new owner discovered the checks were fake, the
cards had been spent.
Action: You’re unlikely to be able to spot a forgery — even
phony cash and certainly not a travelers’ check.
The lesson again is to be sure of who you’re dealing with. Be
cheeky: Say you’ve been warned about fraud; ask to see their
driver’s license and to take a cell phone photo of their face.
Read about other Craigslist scams here:
Double Dipping Scam
It’s bad enough to be scammed once but when the first scam is
used as a lever for a second one it hurts more than twice as
Police use the term “double dipping” for the crime and it
comes in many formats that usually hinge on the crook
pretending to help you deal with the first scam.
In the latest ruse, a caller tells lottery scam victims he’s
from an agency working with the police to recover their lost
money, but they have to pay for his service.
The money, of course, is not recovered, at least not by this
conman who likely scammed the victim first time around —
otherwise how would he know about their misfortune?
Action: Law enforcement and the Federal Trade Commission are
the only people who recover scam victims’ money — and neither
of them charges for the service!
More Advance Fee Scams
Double-dipping is a sort of advance fee scam, sometimes called
Nigerian scams — they never go away, do they?
They’re the tricks we’ve written about so many times in which
victims are offered money but they have to pay to supposedly
get their hands on it. See The Nigerian Advance Fee Scheme.
The first one we have for you comes in an email from a
supposed lottery winner who has recently been in the news for
the scale of the win — at least tens of millions.
He apparently wants to give away some of his money in big
chunks of a couple million — but the “lucky” recipients must
pay to release the money, by wiring cash to the scammer.
In the second trick, the scammer poses as a wealthy benefactor
and contacts a charity or non-profit offering to help fund a
major project that’s been in the news.
Of course there are “fees” they must pay upfront first and
they never hear from him again — unless it’s to demand more
Action: Don’t pay to get money and never wire cash to people
you don’t know.
Follow these two rules and you’ll avoid these and many other
Spam Scams to Watch Out For
Our mailboxes and researchers’ notebooks overflow with spam
Here are the latest to be on the lookout for:
An email offering compensation for fraud, accident or
illness — a wide range of scenarios that’s guaranteed to
apply to many recipients.
The sender claims to be from a courier service that has been
trying to contact you by phone and now wants to send you a
refund or compensation payment — but you have to pay a fee
“to UPS” to get it.
Action: As in the previous item — it’s an advance fee scam.
In the latest variation of a malware-charged email
attachment, victims get what seems to be an airline receipt
detailing a trip they supposedly booked.
The message contains very precise details of the flight and
The “ticket” is supposedly attached but if you try to open it
or print it, it pushes a virus onto your PC.
Action: If you didn’t book a flight, it’s highly unlikely such
a message would be genuine.
Good Internet security software should be able to sniff this
scam out and alert you.
Otherwise, contact the airline and, using the information in
the message (not the ticket, which you shouldn’t open), ask if
they have a booking in your name.
Many scams rely on the gullibility of victims — look out for
a gullibility test coming up in a future Scambusters issue.
But some tricks are highly convincing. The Craigslist scams
are a case in point and the airline ticket scam is enough to
scare you into opening the attachment. They both underline the
importance of staying calm and thinking carefully before you
That’s it for today — we hope you enjoy your week!