Saturday, July 5, 2008

Craigslist Advisory --- Avoid Scams by Trusting No One

I recently won a cell-phone in a contest. It's one of those large "smart phones" that has a tiny keyboard, and runs a tiny version of Windows, along with a tiny version of Microsoft Office. Since it was unlikely that I would ever need to edit Excel spreadsheets on the go, and since I already have a perfectly good cell-phone, I decided to sell it.

Amazon doesn't let you re-sell cell-phones on their reseller marketplace, and lately Ebay seems to be a place fraught with peril, so I decided to try my luck and use Craigslist. I posted a simple notice with information on the phone and my price, and crossed my fingers.

Within a few hours, I had roughly thirty different emails asking about the phone. They ran the gamut from well-worded inquiries with contact information, to gems like:

"i wanna buy the blackjack 2 u posted on craigslist"

I contacted the first person to respond, and we agreed upon a time and place to meet. Craigslist advises meeting in a public place, so if "Krystal" turns out to be twelve large guys who plan to steal your merchandise, at least you can entertain passers-by with your public beating.

In my case, the transaction went surprisingly smoothly. The buyer gave the phone a cursory examination and then handed me a large wad of cash. I verified the amount and we went our separate ways. I was not subsequently followed by thugs looking to liberate me from my money, but had I been, the joke would have been on them, since I almost immediately gave all the money to a nice man on the street playing three-card-monte and told him, "I'll be back for this later." I kid.

I still find it odd that anyone would be willing to hand over a large wad of cash to someone they knew only through two lines of text posted on Craigslist, but perhaps this is the way things are done nowadays, and I’m an old coot that needs to learn to embrace these newfangled ways.