3 On Your Side

Beware of Craigslist scams

Posted: Updated:
The 'buyer' sent Wayne Watson two check, both for well more than the asking prices for the pianos. (Source: 3TV) The 'buyer' sent Wayne Watson two check, both for well more than the asking prices for the pianos. (Source: 3TV)
Wayne Watson turned to Craigslist to sell two pianos. (Source: 3TV) Wayne Watson turned to Craigslist to sell two pianos. (Source: 3TV)
The 'buyer' wanted Wayne Watson to send money to 'movers' via MoneyGram. (Source: 3TV) The 'buyer' wanted Wayne Watson to send money to 'movers' via MoneyGram. (Source: 3TV)
The 'buyer' only communicated via text message from what was likely a burner phone. (Source: 3TV) The 'buyer' only communicated via text message from what was likely a burner phone. (Source: 3TV)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Wayne Watson has had pretty good luck on the Internet.

"I bought things and sold things on Craigslist; I have done that," he said. 

Because Watson never had problems with any of his transactions, he decided to use Craigslist once again to sell some antique pianos that he owns. In fact he showed 3 On Your Side pictures of the pianos.

Once he posted the pianos, it didn't take long for the Scottsdale man to get offers by text message.

"One piano was $650 and that cashier’s check was for $1,750," he said. "The other piano, I agreed to sell it to him for $250 and he sent me a check for $1,720."

But Watson quickly became suspicious.

For starters, the checks came from two different out-of-state state banks with different return addresses. Plus the checks were made out for a lot for more than his asking prices. Why would someone do that? 

The buyer, who only communicated through text messaging, said the overage was to cover the cost of having the pianos shipped by professional movers.

All Watson had to do was deposit those checks into his bank account, keep the agreed amount of $900 for the pianos and then use MoneyGram to wire around $2,500 to movers, who were out-of-state.

Watson's bank stopped him.

"Sure enough, both times the bank said, 'No, these are fraudulent. There's no money; it's not a real check,'" Watson said.

That's right. The two checks were phony and the scammer was counting on Watson wiring all of that money before his bank realized they were fake. 

The scam has been around for years and even Craigslist warns consumers to look out for the scheme if they use the website to sell something.

"Don't accept cashier/certified checks or money orders," Watson added.

Fortunately, Watson didn't fall for the scam and his bank account was never wiped out. Still, the scammers keep texting him every day asking him to go through with the transaction because, of course, they claim they want those pianos.

"It finally dawned on me these people could care less about the merchandise," Watson said. "They just want to get the money out of your account."

This is not the first time 3 On Your Side has encountered this scam. Last month we told you about a mother-to-be who fell victim to this scam while trying to sell her car. She lost nearly $1,000 before she realized what was happening.

For information about how to avoid being scammed when selling on Craigslist, check out www.craigslist.org/about/scams.

[RELATED: BBB warns of top scams]

Copyright 2015 3TV (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

  • Recent 3 On Your Side storiesMore>>

  • 3 On Your Side

    Smart devices: Do you own what you buy?

    Smart devices: Do you own what you buy?

    Saturday, February 4 2017 9:52 AM EST2017-02-04 14:52:25 GMT
    Consumers are app crazy, and not only to control temps or lights. They're unlocking doors and maybe even seeing what's inside the fridge. (Source: Alexander Kirch via 123RF)Consumers are app crazy, and not only to control temps or lights. They're unlocking doors and maybe even seeing what's inside the fridge. (Source: Alexander Kirch via 123RF)

    "Oftentimes, the companies that make these products insist that even though you might own the physical object, you don't own the software code inside of it," he said. "And that code is really fundamental to the operation of those products."

    More >

    "Oftentimes, the companies that make these products insist that even though you might own the physical object, you don't own the software code inside of it," digital rights specialist and author Aaron Perzanowski said. "And that code is really fundamental to the operation of those products."

    More >
  • 3 On Your Side

    Can your HOA issue you a speeding ticket?

    Can your HOA issue you a speeding ticket?

    Friday, August 18 2017 12:53 AM EDT2017-08-18 04:53:19 GMT
    (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)(Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

    Sun Lakes is in the East Valley and is known for having active adult communities for retirees like Bernie Van Emden. "You name it, they got it here,” Van Emden said of all of the amenities in his development.

    More >

    Sun Lakes is in the East Valley and is known for having active adult communities for retirees like Bernie Van Emden. "You name it, they got it here,” Van Emden said of all of the amenities in his development.

    More >
  • 3 On Your Side

    Did you get a 'free cruise' robocall? You may be eligible for $900!

    Did you get a 'free cruise' robocall? You may be eligible for $900!

    Wednesday, August 16 2017 11:59 PM EDT2017-08-17 03:59:14 GMT

    Information about a robocall settlement has been trending on social media and a lot of consumers are wondering it's legitimate. It is true! Open the story to find out what you have to do to get your money.

    More >

    Information about a robocall settlement has been trending on social media and a lot of consumers are wondering it's legitimate. It is true! Open the story to find out what you have to do to get your money.

    More >
  • Social Connect

  • Contact

    AZ Family
Contact 3 On Your Side