A friend of mine got caught up in a craigslist scam recently. I’ve heard of a number of craigslist scams, and feel like I have a good idea on warning signs, but this one was new to me.
My friend contacted someone about buying some furniture. The woman told her that the furniture was still available for sale. A little while later, the same woman contacted her again and said that someone else sent her an email about buying the furniture, but it went to her spam mail folder. She wanted to sell it to the first person since they replied to the ad first. But, the woman explained, she wanted to make it up to my friend. She worked at a dental office and a company was giving them teeth whitening samples for cheap – something like $4, which was 90% off the regular price. My friend could go to a website, punch in a special code and get the same 90% discount that their dental office workers are getting. So, my friend figured “why not?” She went out to the website, punched in the code and ordered them. A $4 charge showed up on her credit card. Then, a little while later, another $1.50 charge. My friend thought that was odd, but didn’t worry too much about it. Then, her bank contacted her because they had tried to withdraw hundreds of dollars out of her account, but the bank had put a hold on the transaction. My friend went back to the website, but it was gone.
Fortunately, it doesn’t sound like my friend lost any money, but her money was tied-up for a few days while the bank put a hold on it. (I don’t actually know why the bank wouldn’t let her access it. Maybe they were unsure of the status of the transaction.) The $1.50 charge was a test to see if they could pull more money from the account after the initial $4.