Last week, I decided it was time to do some cleaning and organizing before we moved. We cleaned out several closets, crawl spaces and our attic and made a list of the items we knew we weren’t going to need in our new home. Looking to make a little extra money to help fund the move, I decided to list a few items on the popular selling site, Craigslist. Unfortunately, I had a scammer try to “buy” one of my items. Here’s what I learned from the experience:
The details must make sense.
The day after I listed our dining room set, I received a text from someone claiming to be a deaf woman from Massachusetts looking to purchase the set as a gift for her son. Given that she was deaf, she asked that we only communicate via text and insisted that I send her our address immediately so she could schedule a pickup through a delivery truck and pay us via PayPal. This was a huge red flag. First of all, we live in Illinois, so why would she be looking on the Illinois Craigslist board? Second of all, who would make a large purchase such as a $2,500 dining room set sight unseen? Lastly, why was she so urgent to get our address?
Open communications is a must.
While there absolutely are people with disabilities who shop on Craigslist, it’s pretty uncommon to not welcome some kind of phone conversation, specifically for a large ticket item. For example, own of my husband’s employees is blind, so he relies heavily on in-person and phone conversations for communication instead of email, and has his wife assist him when he needs to fill out paperwork. If this woman really was deaf, I would have been more than happy to talk to her family member or friend to discuss the details. Furthermore, there are phone services that allow hearing individuals to communicate with deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals. Denying a phone conversation was a big red flag to me as well.
There is no room for urgency.
The woman texted me at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday morning. I responded to her immediately but told her that I would have to get back to her after I got home from work that evening. She said she needed the information right away, and encouraged me to get back to her during my lunch break. If she was really serious about buying the dining set, she would have been happy to wait.
I ended up telling her that I was not comfortable with the circumstances of the sale and told her that we would look for another buyer. I kindly thanked her for her time, and never heard a response. If she would have been a legitimate buyer she would have thanked me as well, or followed up to see if there were circumstances we both could have agreed on. Fortunately I was able to spot a scam and avoided a costly mistake!