Best question to ask craigslist sales spoof: Why use PayPal?

By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

Mike Reineck, of Boise, like many small business owners, couldn’t see taking the gently used printer he’d purchased out on the curb simply because he’d upgraded.

“After sitting unsold on the local Craigslist for six weeks, I got an email asking if it was still for sale, and the buyer wanted to pay via PayPal,” he said. “I thought: ‘Well, if it the money goes into my PayPal account, it’s a legitimate purchase.'”

Hold on to that thought.  When you start to think that all e-payments are secure and safe, you better read on.

Mike went to a posting that spells out the flaws. Here’s an abbreviated look.

  • You get an “official looking” email from PayPal stating money’s been sent, but won’t be credited to your account until you email a tracking number. PayPal never asks for a tracking number!
  • Don’t click-through on “official looking” emails.  PayPal will not ask you to click-through to confirm the transaction has been done. Click in, you’ll be redirected to a lookalike site where you’ll type in your user name, password and open access to the scammer.
  • You get an email that says he will send the package, and the tracking number, and as soon as you send that you’ve received the shipment, he’ll give the tacking number to PayPal to when done. This is probably stolen merchandise.
  • Buyer wants to use PayPal account.  He puts the money into the account, you verify, send the merchandise, and once you send the item, the real account holder reports it as a theft and PayPal debits your account. No money, no merchandise.
  • Never ship to a different address. Doing so allows the scammer to revert a charge back saying they never received the goods. You have no protection from PayPal if you ship to a different address. Again. No money, no merchandise.
  • Never accept more money than what you’re asking for, and never send money to a third-party. Forged checks are used in overpayments scams, and you are responsible to repay the bank. You lose twice in this scam – your own and the money you have to pay back.

Reinick says he became suspicious and the “danger ahead” lights came on.

“I determined that the buyer was in the S.F. Bay Area, which keyed me to think there was no shortage of printers there,” he says.

The following are red flags  you’re likely dealing with a fraudster:

  • The buyer or seller is from another country.
  • The buyer or seller will not meet with you and will only communicate via e-mail.
  • The buyer overpays and asks you to wire the extra funds back to him/her.

Here’s another article on this topic.

And, if you have doubts about the safety of a transaction, contact PayPal by phone (1-888-215-5506 – Toll Free Number), email at or  Twitter at @AskPayPal.


1 Comment

Filed under Scam alert

One response to “Best question to ask craigslist sales spoof: Why use PayPal?

  1. Mark Burrows

    One of the earliest childhood Latin popular terms my mother bestowed upon my young brow, was Caveat emptor which everyone should know by now is Let The Buyer Beware. Yet there is a similar Latin phrase, Caveat venditor which translates into let the seller beware, It is more a matter of law than emptor, because it forces the seller to take responsibility for the product and not to sell unreasonably. It is also the edict by with PayPal and eBay stand by. Yes, we all know there is all kinds of corny things on eBay but I think that with common sense and good humor we can sort those out.
    Craigslist does not follow any such rules. They are simply an internet version of those thick Buy and Sell news prints that once upon a time were a free publication but now it’s something you pay for, and not nearly as popular as it use to be. Craigslist offers no safeguards, no screening, and it certainly does not have it’s own bank to run interference.
    Point is, there are way too many loopholes a ways to abuse and manipulate Craigslist. The only time I have used it is for local sellers where I can actually go and look at what I might or might not purchase used. Otherwise I stick strictly to eBay, and the bank they created PayPal, well technically it’s not a bank. Yet, any issue I have ever had, they have resolved it with professional expertize and courtesy. Then it helps to have patience, tolerance, and some understanding when going into and issue. Using heated and foul language will not get you case quick results.

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