Friday, May 21, 2010

A friend was nearly scammed and robbed on Craigslist

The scammers, robbers, and thieves in the world often prey on the too-trusting elderly; in the case of Internet scammers, the non-techworldly elderly.

If you know a nice, trusting, technophobe who uses the Internet (such as your parents), do them and the world a favor by explaining to them that there are thieves out there, how the thieves hide their tracks, and how to not get robbed. My friend is just - nearly - starting to get it.

Her email, after she advertised a computer for sale on Craig's Listl:
Mike Anderson wrote to me and stated that he wanted to buy the PC for his grandson who was in Nigeria (that alone should have been a red flag for me), and that we would safeguard our deal by him putting $900 into my PayPal account and once they notified me that the money was there, I could safely send the package to Nigeria, to his grandson (he provided a nice long address for me).  Sure enough, I received confirmation from PayPal and I went to the Post Office and mailed the package out and got insurance (I didn't really need insurance, I figured out later).  Anyway, I wanted PayPal to transfer the money to my checking account but they said I would first have to prove that I sent out the package by giving them the tracking number.  I did that.  While I was waiting for my money, I quickly wrote to a young savvy computer guy that my daughter works with to thank him encouraging me to put the PC on Craig's List and to tell him what I sweet deal I got.  He immediate called and said he wanted me to go to the Internet and log in with my codes and see how much money was in there.  I did that immediately and my heart felt like it stopped beating.  $0 and I had just send out my PC to a major thief.  I could not think straight because I could hardly move.  Nevertheless, this young man kept writing to me and telling me to take immediate action, namely go to the post office in [nearest city] ([my town] was already closed) and take immediate action.  I did.  I was supposed to have someone track down the package and return it to me.  The postman said that if it got on the plane early next morning, I would never see it again.  All alarms were on.  I was very ill and despondent.  However close to 9 pm, I received a call that the package was found.  She would hold it.  I would have to fax a release form.  She made sure I got it back the next day, Saturday.  I did.
I'm somewhat confused about Paypal asking to see a tracking number to release funds, but I'm amazed and happy that she got her package back, and is now only out the $85 shipping fee. Many others have suffered much worse.
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