I’m selling a used canoe through the classifieds here.
Get a message from a “Roland Morrison” saying he’s interested, and is it still available.
I reply “yeah it’s still available. Any questions? Want to come by and have a look at it?”
Then “Roland” replies with this:
"Thanks for the update am ok with the price and condition currently out of town due to the nature of my job military now at Fort Carson Army Base Colorado my mode of payment will be a bank issued certified check and only have access to email for now.I need your name and address so that the check can be mail to you also my shipper will come for pick up after check clears at your bank.Let me know how you will like to proceed with this and get the payment. Roland "
So many red flags there!
I am 100% certain this is some sort of scam, but I can’t figure out exactly how it works.
Classic scam. This script has been around for as long as Craigslist. The fake “buyer” is always either “in the military” or an “engineer/oil rig worker/project manager” working overseas so you never meet or talk to them in person or on the phone. Sometimes they will send you a Faebook name/account but those are always faked too (note the lack of “friends” and posts on them.)
The “cashier’s check” that the “buyer” will send or the “shipper” will bring you will be accurate looking but totally counterfeit AND it will be for a higher amount than you agreed to sell the boat (or car or bike or diamond ring or whatever) for – the “shipper rep” will claim that was a mistake that they have no control over and they will ask you to cash it at your bank and refund them the difference, usually $1000 or more. If they get the cash from you (if your bank falls for the faked check and sometimes they do until it comes back as fake and they debit your account) chances are the fake “shipper rep” won’t even come back for the boat though they will claim they will do so later. If they do take it you will be out both the boat and a bunch of money.
These scams mostly originate in Africa or Eastern Europe. They are surprisingly successful, people are gullible.
If you want to yank their chain, give them a fake name and address and tell them to send the check there. At least they will waste time and money for a little while in which they won’t be seeking dupes that fall for their scam. One of my friends did that a few years ago when the same scam was sent to him regarding a motorcycle he had for sale. He told them to make the check out to “Ima Phroddster” with the address of the regional FBI field office (here is a link to their locations if you want to use one.)
I also have a canoe for sale and heard from Roland. He wanted a phone number to contact me even though one was clearly there to read in the ad. After I provided it he failed to call but I have seen an increase in robocalls on that number.
Seems the last safe place to sell a canoe may not be so anymore.
On the other hand I will relate a similar story. I was selling a truck mounted snowplow for 500 bucks and I guy contacted me with an iffy story and I wasn’t about to give him info so he told me the only way he could pay me would be if I could pick up the check and he would get it later. I told him a could and of course he was out of town but he would have a man he works with leave the check inside the seat of a fork truck that the seat was split and it sat out front of the office to a trailer sales place. I said ok. So after work I go to this place and there is a fork truck no one around and the seat has a slit ripped in it I reach in and there is a check to me for 500 bucks. So I cash it and it clears and I wait and wait and wait to hear from the guy. A few months pass and I reply back to the CL ad asking if he is still alive. He said he was so sorry he lost my email and had no way to come and get it. I said well are you coming now and he said no he has been relocated and has no use for the plow and I should just keep the money and sell it again. So I did the next guy was normal came out and looked at it didn’t seem like he could afford it and offered me 400 and I took it.
Roland must a rabid boat collector because he sent me same scam for a canoe I too have on P.Com classifieds. Will just delete. I did respond to similar Ft Carson ruse a few years back by informing buyer of great coincidence that I was there too to visit family and could he please meet me at the base bowling alley to pay in person.
I have personally reached out about canoes for a friend who isn’t tech savvy or reached out for a canoe for myself that a friend would pick up. So while some caution is good, never let a buyer walk without some response/investigation. Especially this time of year.
I’m sure those scams existed in some variation in times of newspaper classifieds. I also never would put a phone number in an ad - this just leads to idiots wasting time or spam texts. Cl has the anonymized email, FB has messenger.
Even if the “certified” check is in the correct amount and your bank accepts it, it can be tagged as fake a few days later and the bank takes the money back - likely after you gave the buyer the merchandise. You probably should ask your bank about details how “secure” a certified check is and if there are options that put the liability on them.
Even if you do PayPal, they can claim you are the fake seller and they never received the goods and PayPal often sides with the buyer and you may lose your money after they picked up the item or you shipped it. So far I was lucky and assume people who buy specialized hobby items are not as shady as someone buying a smartphone or other more generally popular item. that risk is the price for items where no one local buys my crap and I ship it to someone.
Typically cash is the best option. Best to meet at a public space or even a Police station so they don’t know your address, or just beat you to death. The latter is less likely for specialized hobby items. But has happened for phones and other less specialized items. I only let someone come to my house for a car where there is paperwork anyway, or bulky items like furniture where it is less likely a gang would rob people to get a used couch. Boats probably would be fine too since they are bulky and the actual prospective buyer likely is not a gangster.
I once sold a smartphone to a young woman and had her come to my house. The phone worked and I had it released form my provider so she could use it with a SIM card from a different carrier. It worked fine and I explained to her how to install the SIM card. She was just like “I know and I’m not stupid”. OK, I think. Well later the day she calls me and says the SIM card she bought doesn’t work and I sold her a broken phone. I just assume she got the wrong card, or ham-fisted the card in. I had her come back to look at it and assist. I try out my old card, and it also didn’t work (even when it worked a day before for me). So she must have broken it. Then she starts talking about how her fiancé was mad about the situation etc. I just gave her the $100 back and took the (now non-functional) phone back. It wasn’t worth the trouble of 2 people being mad at me. in addition to the purchase price she then wanted from me the money for the SIM card she had bought since it was useless without my phone. I politely told her no. And that is why I meet at a public space and try to stay anonymous. For phones I also tell in the ad they should bring their own SIM card to try out before buying.
Also make sure you state the payment options you accept in the ad. I once sold a $20 used child seat. Guy shows up and asks if I do Venmo. I don’t. He scraped $13 out of his pockets and I just wanted to be done with it and accepted his coin collection. I didn’t think people buying a $20 item show up with not enough cash…
For small cheap items, I just post it for free on the neighborhood FB group. Not worth the hassle. i just don’t want it to go to the landfill.
Roland Morrison is still at it. I heard from him earlier this week: he was interested in buying my kayak. I googled his name along with Fort Carson Colorado and found this post. So, I sent him the address of the FBI office in Philadelphia as suggested by the post above.