How to Spot a Scam

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

John Mark's Fake Check

Thank you to the person who scanned and submitted an actual fake check sent by "John Mark." As you can see it looks very real. If you are a Sitter City user, please do what you can to report this con artist. You have the power to stop this guy.

Additionally, many people have expressed their concern and worries about having given this person some private information about themselves, such as their mailing address. While it's normal to feel this way, please remember that this particular person/group of people are located in another country (Nigeria) and have no power over you. Remember at all times that they sent you a fraudulent check! If anything these people should be living in constant fear of what will happen to them once they get caught. The US Government and Interpol does not look kindly at criminal organizations, check or bank fraud
As a side note please notice the issuing party or bank on this check. Partners is a federal credit union for Walt Disney employees only. Furthermore they only have branches on the West Coast of the United States. If you are in possession of a check sent to you by John Mark, it would be wise to either tear it up of submit it to your local police or FBI office. If enough pressure is applied it is likely that law enforcement will familiarize themselves with this individual.

Friday, October 24, 2008

CL Scambuster on TV!!

Due to the overwhelming support of our movement, we were able to supply some of the info provided in this news segment. Thank you again for everyone's continued efforts to combat criminal activity online and offline.

Avoid Sandra Candy

A craigslist user informed us of this low life:

Name: Sandra Candy

Being new to CL and that USPS/DHL shipments, I became a victim. She made an email that would came from USPS with all that tracking number notifications...Item was delivered to the address she gave me but no payment came's depressing but there's nothing more I could do but be wiser next time.

This is the email from Mrs Sandra Candy- i guess this could be the same person that you encountered too.How are you doing?I am located in BOSTON. I'd want you to know that i am new to craigslist online transaction.. I would like to let you know that I have gone through your posting and ready to buy it. As far as there will not be any repairs on it I am willing to offer you a sum of $2100 for the item so that it could be packed properly.

I could have love to pick the item up myself but am busy woman due to fact that am a nurse and working in the hospital and i have alot of appointment in the hospital. So the payment will be made through (usps Money Order, delivery of cash)(Standard 1-2 Days delivery Service ).. I am purchasing it for my friend's daughter wedding which coming up on the 15th october in Warrington, Pa 18976 USA... With this,you'd get your money after payment has been made and all necessary things done.. To proceed with the payment I will need your mailing address, city, zip code, state and likewise phone number. I also have a UPS/DHL prepaid account which will take care of the shipping charge, so you will not need to pay for shipment....I will be looking forward to hearing you...ASAP

John Mark is back

John Mark use to be an avid scam artist, but since we featured his tactics he has been avoiding craigslist. It appears ole' "John" cannot help himself, and has surfaced on SITTERCITY, an website dedicated to connecting reliable childcare personnel with parents in need of such services. John Mark has targeted young women in an attempt to swindle them out of money.

Since this scammer shows no regard for decency, we are now committed to ending his run on SITTERCITY as well. Here is the info we have on him so far:

User name: RossyJoss09
Email used:,

If you are in contact with this person please beware of his criminal intentions! Do not send him any personal information!!

Ticket Scammer

A craigslist user sent this warning to us recently:

Name: Tommy Ryan
Company: Let's Talk Tickets

Tommy Ryan ripped me off for baseball tickets to the cubs don't use "lets talk tickets" for anything. his phone # is 773-595-8228

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Beware of Frank Edwards

Thanks again to the person who sent this info to us.

Name: Frank Edwards

I replied to a Craiglist post for an English tutor, and this is the response I recieved: HelloAm Frank an international model from Spain,my 16 yrs old Step-daughter will be coming for a vacation in the U.S,and I want her to be busy throughout because she is a lil bit playful.Therefore, I just want to know maybe she can always come to you and be her English tutor so she can learn from you. If possible,please get back to me with the cost of your teaching for the month,i mean for the whole Month, excluding Sat and Sun.She will be coming to your home or Meet in the City Library for 2 hours each day, I have scheduled a CHAUFFEUR that will always drive her down to your place. My step-daughter's name is Venus Simpson , I want to know the total amount for an hour each for the total month.

So that i can arrange for the payments.If its going to work, Kindly get back to me with the total amount for the month and your mailing address,i will be waiting to see your mail soon,bye for now.
Frank Edwards

The bad spelling and grammar bothered me, especially since the original post was very nicely written. His claim to be a model also bothered me (why, of all places, would a Spanish model send his step-daughter to the small city I live in?) Also, why is he willing to hire a "CHAUFFEUR" rather than have me drive to the location, the "City Library," and which library anyway - there are at least a half-dozen different branches! In addition, like an idiot, I sent my resume as an attachment - so he has my mailing address and has no need to ask for it, unless he doesn't know how to open attachments (I hope). This also suggests that I am dealing with a complete fraud. I marked the original post as spam on Craigslist and have no intent to reply to the email. A Google search turns up no hits on the name or email, so this must be a new identity. I hope others who are suspcious read this and don't fall for this old scam.

"Cynthia" the tutor scam artist

CL Scambuster would like to thank the craigslist user that sent in this intel.

Scam Artist: Cynthia
Email Used:
CL Listing: Buffalo, NY

Hello, thanks for making this information available.

My girlfriend just received the following email after responding to a "tutor wanted" ad on the Buffalo Craigslist. The message immediately raised flags, but thanks to your site, we were able to confirm our suspicion. Notice the "$50.00/hr(which i have in mind)" phrasing is identical. Return address is

Hello Diana ,Thank you for the email,i want my girl (Betty) for the tutorial. A girl of 7 yrs, more so for accepting the offer and its okay by me,I have made contacts with my child concerning the arrangement of the tutoring which she told me is ok by her and i want you to know that i am going to pay for 1 month,which should be $50.00/hr(which i have in mind) And am planning that you will be teaching her 3 times a week,which is 1hr per day,so get back to me with the total fee for the subject which is English and when you will be available to teach her during the week So my child will be coming down for summer by ending of November 2008 and i want her to study more about what she need to know while she is in the states and she speaks a little bit english... So i want you to inform you that i will be sending you the payment inform of Check for the tutorial while i will also pay the Nanny that will be taking care of her and the nanny would bring her down to whereever you believe it will be comfortable for you to have the tutorial, so as soon as you get the payment cash you will deduct cost of tutoring of the leschild and send the remaining balance to the nanny that will be taking care of the jachild which the information will be giving to you later after you have recive the payment.

Regarding the payment,kindly send your full information to made the payment out to, So it can be made out on-time. So hope i can trust you that you will teach my child good academics and some moral respects so that they can be good to their self in the future, i hope i can count on you for the tutorial and the money to be sent to the Guardian my child would be coming down to stay with the nanny that would bring her down anytime you have a class with her and the tutor would start by middle of child (Betty) speaks a little bit english and she is in grade one....i would await the information... so i can proceed on the payment as soon as possible.

MAILING ADDRESS (no P.O.Box please):

I will be looking forward to hear back from you soon with the information to made the payment and your contact phone number.

Note how the information requested by the scammer is enough to begin a preliminary identity theft operation against you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Porsche Scam

It used to be that kids did the darndest things. Lately, a lot of kids seem to be more into wacked-out-WTF things, like a 17-year-old Manhattan high-schooler in Long Island, NY who was the ringleader in a scam created to rob folks looking to buy a Porsche.

The scam was quite simple and took advantage of folks looking for the too-good-to-be-true. The ringleader would post an ad on craigslist for a used Porsche -- in one case for a 2002 Porsche Turbo for $50,000 OBO, in another case it was for a 2005 Carrera GT that the "owner" had simply "gotten too old for." The siren-goes-off part of the ads was when the owner requested that potential buyers bring $22,000 for the down payment on the car.

Turns out that folks did show up with cash in their pockets. Upon arrival, they were set upon by six male teens who tried to rob them of whatever they had. The most the teen crooks were able to get at one time was $4,000 from one couple. On another occasion, two gentlemen apparently did show up with $22,000, but only lost $50 before they were able to get away. The perps have all been caught, but next time you see an ad for a car that seems like a steal, ask a lot of questions and leave the $22,000 at home.

Phony Escrow Sites Scam

This popular Craigslist scam will work a lot like the bad check and counterfeit money order scams now rampant on Craigslist with a few minor twists. What makes this scam different is that the person running the scam is selling the item rather than buying it. Their Craigslist listing will probably be something relatively expensive like a car or expensive tool. The more expensive an item for sale on the internet is the more paranoid all parties involved in the sale are likely to become.

Watch out for sellers insisting you use an escrow company you've never heard of, especially if it's abroad. Don't get tricked into using Western Union thinking that it's perfectly safe because it's a name you know and trust. Savvy online shoppers know to steer clear of buyers wanting you to transfer money to them via Western Union or engage in currency transfers. They know better than allowing another party to draw money directly from their bank accounts. Never hand "phishy" sounding escrow sites the keys to your account or you could end up paying a lot more than you expected.

New York City Apartment Scam

Fraud in New York City's Craigslist classifieds has become so pervasive that Craigslist has considered charging a fee for its ads. Their hope is that by putting a charge in place, they will discourage phony listings. Most of these fraudulent postings are common bait and switch schemes. However, some of the cases reported involved more elaborate schemes run by professional criminals.

These scam artists have managed to bilk apartment seekers for thousands of dollars. Everyone knows how competitive the New York apartment market is, with too many people looking for far too few apartments. Some bold con artists have capitalized on this situation and used it to their advantage. In one of the worst cases we found a woman who promised a small studio apartment to several dozen different people. She collected enough money from each hopeful tenant in the form of rent and security deposits to make off with over $60,000.

This may not be the most common apartment scam on Craigslist but it's not unique. People sub-renting the same apartment to multiple people and making off with their money are numerous enough that anyone using Craigslist or any other online service should thoroughly check out their landlord before handing over their money.

Craigslist Car Scam

Buying and selling cars on Craigslist can be a huge money-saver for both parties. Both can expect to make or save more than if they had gone to a dealership. This makes the Auto category in Craigslist's For Sale section very active, especially in urban areas. With so many people exchanging so many cars for so much cash, it was only a matter of time before the criminal element took notice. Fraudulent postings are now a common occurrence. The crudest attempts are easily ignored, but some schemes can be more complex. Some scams are operated by clever, experienced con men that have an answer for everything.

Stolen checks, counterfeit checks and bounced checks are costing people money, cars or both. In one common scam, the buyer accidently pays more by money order or cashier's check than was asked for and asks you to refund them the overage. If you send them the money before the money order clears the bank, you are braver than you are smart. These money orders often turn out to be counterfeits and any money sent them is lost forever.

Buying and selling cars can be done safely, but these are big ticket items and many sellers have reported at least one suspicious response to a posting. I'm so used to them now, that I'd feel insulted if I posted something for sale and never received my free scam attempt.
  • To help you identify suspicious buyers or sellers, we've put together a list of a few of the warning signs.
  • Cars are priced far below current market value.
  • The seller claims to be in the military and is stationed overseas.
  • The posting does not include a phone number.
  • The seller will demand that you use an online escrow service of their choice.
  • The person receiving the call is referred to as a "pickup agent."
  • Payment must be wired to or from another country. Western Union is often requested.
  • The buyer or seller is very anxious to conclude the transaction.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Follow our Blog

Over the past few months many Blogger users have inquired about the possibility of following our blog. We have added a new feature that will allow you to do just that. On the right hand column there is a follow blog link. Click it and become informed about new scam tactics and the people who continue to perpetrate them.

Thank you again to everyone who has submitted information regarding their experiences with these low life scam artists. We are committed to spreading public awareness and will continue to work with law enforcement to put these criminals out of business.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Thanks to the Paris Housing Scam Watch Group

We want to thank The Paris Housing Scam Watch blog for their hard work, and for exposing the scam artists in the the housing/apartment rental market. We encourage you to visit their site at:

Thursday, October 2, 2008

TUTOR SCAM - John Williams

This is an alert from a craigslist user in Raleigh:

Scam Artist: John Williams

Hello,Thanks for the email,my son will be coming for a vacation in the U.S,and i want him to be busy throughout because he is a bit playful.I just want to know maybe he can always come to you and you can be his tutor so he can learn from you.I want my kid to partake for a tutorial class.He is just 15 yrs old,I have told him concerning the arrangement of the tutoring and he told me it is okey with him.

I want you to know that i am going to pay for 1 month,which should be $50.00/hr(which i have in mind).And i am planning that you will be teaching him 3 times a week,which is 1hr per day,so get back to me with the total fee for the subject English language, when you will be available to teach him during the week ?I also want to inform you that my son don't live in the states, he live in Philippine. so my Son will be arriving the states on 10th of NOVEMBER 2008 then the tutorial class can start by 15th NOVEMBER.

I want him to study more about what his needs to know while he is in the states.I will also like to inform you that my client in state will besending you an Over-payment inform of Us money orders or Certifiedcheck for the lesson fee, and Also to inform you that i will be paying the Nanny that will be taking care of my son's welfare while he is there for the lesson, Please for the nature of your job and for the good relationship between Your self and my son i would want to entrust you with this money because am not presently in the States, i would have liked to take care of all this myself but since the payment would be coming to you from my associates , i want you to please kindly be of help by cashing the money and deducting only your teaching fee and send the remaining fund to his Nanny/ Guardian / house keeper so my son can be in good health and well taken care of before my arrival. Regarding this, kindly send your full information to receive the payment so it can be made out to you on-time.

I hope i can trust you to be a very good teacher for my Son's good academics performance.I hope i can count on you for the tutorial and the money to be sent to the Guardian.Please reply with Full Name On Payment,Full residential address,Phone numbers and email address, so that one of my client can issuethe payment to you ASAP.

HIS EMAIL ADDRESS: try, but he should have picked a better name than John Williams

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fraud Tip of the Day

Nigerian Rental Scams - How to detect and avoid them

Nigerian rental schemes involve conning people into wiring rent money overseas. These online rental scams are on the rise so it's important to know what to look for to avoid being ripped off!
We've seen so many stories about Nigerian style rental scams that we've decided to devote a tip of the day to them in the hopes that renters and landlords being targeted by these scams can recognize what's going on before it's too late.

Nigerian scams have many variations but boil down to conning people into sending money overseas through money wire transfer services like Western Union. Some of these schemes are obvious and easy to dismiss. Others are more elaborate and detecting them can be quite challenging because they appear to be legitimate offers at first glance. These are the scams you have to worry about. Luckily, there are warning signs that can tip you off before you get scammed.

Rental Scam Warning Signs

You are contacted via email regarding a property. You may have posted on Craigslist, for instance, so email is hardly unexpected. Be on the lookout for poor grammar or comments that make no sense.

The request comes from outside the country. This may turn out to be a legitimate inquiry but once you know it originated from somewhere overseas proceed with caution.

There is a sense of urgency. If you feel pressured to act quickly because of some immediate need, be especially cautious. Scam artists count on decisions made in haste.

Third parties become involved. If the person wanting to rent your property needs to use a friend or someone else as an intermediary in order to pay, you should be at your own highest alert level. This is a common Nigerian Scam ploy.

You will be over-payed. This is one of the tricks these scam artists use to get money out of you. Normally, you would be the one receiving cash in a transaction. In this case, however, the check or money order is made out for more than you requested. Oops. Now they'll want you to wire the extra amount back to them. Once you do, they back out of the entire arrangement and days later you will find out that the check or money order was a forgery and you're stuck with the loss.

How to avoid Nigerian rental scams
Do not let someone pay more than you asked for.

Do a web search for the renter's name to see what comes up.

If the payment arrives in the form of a money order, inspect it carefully in case it's a counterfeit.

Despite your best attempts to determine its authenticity, it may still turn out to be a forgery.

Do not let someone else use your name or Social Security number to buy a property, especially if they offer to pay you for using it.

Don't do anything until the money order or check clears the bank.

You could be pressured to act sooner and you might even receive threats. Don't give into anything. Nigerian scams depend on you sending money to someone before the money order clears the bank.

WARNING: Scammer Laura Williams

Scammer: Laura Williams
Email used:

She claims to live in Paris but writes from IP address, which corresponds to United States Los Altos Vsc Satellite Co — an ISP favoured by Nigerian scam artists. Here’s her rip-off pitch:

On 2008-09-26 Laura Williams :
From: Laura Williams
Subject: Room available in Paris
To: [name withheld]
Date: Friday 26 september 2008

As regard room which is available for rent in Paris.

For formalty purpose, let me introduce myself: My name is Laura Williams,26,easy going, Clean tidy, non smoker female. I am originally from Manchester, England, and i moved to join my father in France when he was transfered to Paris.

The house formally belongs to my late father, who worked with British Embassy here in Paris until his death and he has passed it to my mother through his will. My mother and siblings went back to the UK,Manchester after the death of my father.

The most important thing i am looking for is to share daily live and common value. The ideal person i will like to share the apatment with must be a neat person,tidy person,
trust worthy person and there must be proof that he or she can payfor the monthly rent.

I am currently working with an Airline which enables me to travel alot and i as well attend language school when i am not working. The apartment is located at; Rue De Chateau Lando Paris 75010

The location is perfect.
The House is in a cool area , has there is no noise in the vicinity, because the house is not close to major busy roads.

The apartment is located in the center of the city and it is close to bus stops and as well as tube station which makes the apartment to be accesible. The house has a parking space which can park two cars at a time.

The house has internet and there will not be any need for you to bring in any furnitures as the flat and the rooms are well furnished, but you can as wellcome along with your furnitures if you so wish.

The faciities which are available in the apartment are as follows:

1. Private Bathroom and Toilet
2. Furnished Living room with TV connected to cable and DVD
3. Shared Kitchen with gas, water available
4. There is connection to internet via wireless and LAN and also Broadband aswell for your computing purpose,so you can come with your laptop or desktop if you have one.
5. Washing machine and Dryer
6. Furnished Bedroom with window blind and Bed spread

The prices for the apartment are as below:
570 Euro/ monthly rent, Utility (all bills) included.
650 Euro/ Security Deposit(will be refunded to you on your move-out date).

The minimum duration in the apartment is one month and long term stay is welcome in the apartment.

The apartment has two toilet and bathroom, so the only thing which we will have to share together is the kitchen and the living room.

There are three rooms in the apartment, i currently occupy one, the second one is the one i am renting out, while i regard the third room as visitor’s room.

If you are interested in sharing the flat with me, i will be glad if you can contact me for pictures and procedures.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon.


Followed by a request for funds and a copy of the person’s ID:
On 2008-09-27 Laura Williams wrote:
From: Laura Williams
Subject: Room available/pictures
To: [name withheld]
Date: 27 september 2008
Hi [name withheld],

Thanks for your mail,and It’s really nice to know that you have an interest in my room.

The flat has three room,One is for me,One is for rent and the last one is regarded as a visitor’s room.

The fact is that the room is still available,but you have to do this on time because there are people contacting about the room,However i am contacting you to see if we could have a deal, but it depend on your seriousness as regard having the room , because i have come across so many unserious people who only like wasting other peoples time and i hope you quite understand me and my worries,and if you are truly interested in renting the room you will have to book for it in advance, by transferring the Rent and the security deposit to Our family lawyer via Bank Transfer. However,before you can transfer the payment to my family lawyer in England, there are procedures which we have to follow,Our family lawyer will have to
prepare a tenancy Agreement Form which you will have to read and understand and if you eventually agree with the contents of the contract, you will have to print it out and sign it and come with a copy on your move-in date.

After our family lawyer might have prepare the Agreement Form, i will have to send a copy to you via attached file to your e-mail address and mail a copy to your postal address as well.
I will like to have the following information that we enable our
family lawyer prepare the tenant Agreement Form:

1. Your moving-in and moving-out date.
2. Your current home address.(The purpose of the address is to enable me send a copy of the Agreement form to you, which you will have to bring along on your move-in date)
3. A scanned copy of your id card.

I will be waiting to read from you soon.


PS:I have attached the pictures of the apartment for your viewing. The security deposit is refundable on your move out date.

Scam Avoided

Received this message from a craigslist user.

Scam Artist: Roland Rushton
Tactic used: Fake Landlord in need of deposit

We DIDN’T get scammed, thanks to your site.
My wife and I are planning a trip to Paris and posted an ad for an apartment swap in Paris (we’re in Los Angeles) and were contacted by a seemingly nice man named Ronald Rushton (, Typical BS- he and his wife are in England and need someone to look after the place and perhaps show the apartment (in a fantastic, central, wealthy neighborhood) to potential long-term renters, and all they want is copies of our passports and a security deposit wired via MoneyGram. No rent, just a deposit.

TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE- we immediately did a search for Paris apartment scams turned up this idiot. We emailed him back, saying karma comes around. Thanks for the heads up, we’re going to find a legitimate rental agency and go from there.”