Craigslist deals gone sour are commonplace, with incidents of people getting injured, robbed, or scammed being frequent. Just a few days ago, a man from Detroit was apprehended after being suspected of using counterfeit money to buy merchandise sold on Craigslist.
“The Oakland County sheriff’s department says Anthony Lamar Henderson is charged with uttering and publishing counterfeit bank bills, a felony, and larceny by false pretense, a misdemeanor.
“A judge set bond Friday at $50,000 and he was held in the Oakland County Jail. The District Court where his case is being handled says he doesn’t yet have a lawyer on record.”
In another related incident, two men in Detroit were recently arrested after robbing Craigslist buyers. The two posted a car for sale on Craigslist and then robbed would be buyers upon meeting. The following is a report on this according to the site.
“Quazeal March, 17, and Jvon Ford, 20, each are charged with two counts of armed robbery, one count each of attempted robbery and three counts each of conspiracy to commit robbery, a felony firearms offense and using a computer to commit a crime, police said in a release.”
However, the aforementioned Craigslist scams are not as ambitious as those carried out by Nigerians. Just two years ago, it was discovered that only about five Nigerian gangs were responsible for a significant number of fraud cases on Craigslist. On how one of the most ambitious scams worked, an investigation carried by out by George Mason University revealed that sophisticated check writing kits were used and to reduce suspicion, a considerable number of accomplices located in the United States.
Two colleagues, Damon McCoy and Jackie Jones, undertook the investigation, and started by posting numerous laptop sale adverts in the hopes of attracting scammers targeting Craigslist sellers. They set the prices of the laptops at 10 percent higher than similarly listed items on Amazon, a strategy which is said to have deterred most legitimate buyers. The bogus buyers are said to have contacted them via email. To track the location of the buyers, they included images in the emails that revealed the respondents’ real IP addresses.
What they found was that more than half of them were based in Nigeria and from a fairly small circle. On how the scam worked, the buyer would tell the seller that he would only be able to pay for items via a certified check, but can’t pick up the merchandise and has to use a “mover” agent.
As soon as this is understood, the seller is sent a check via UPS or FedEx from a U.S. based address. The check is printed using sophisticated check writing equipment. However, the figure on the face is significantly higher than that of the laptop listed and usually about $1,500. The seller is supposed to cash the check, deduct the money for the laptop, send the remainder to the mover agent via Western Union, and also ship the laptop.
Because some banks would float the check before it was cleared, the seller would send the item and cash via Western Union to the fraudsters, but of course the fake check would eventually be discovered and the bank would attempt to recover the lost funds. The most disturbing aspect of the crime is that the checks were professional enough to fool banks.
[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]