I-Team 10 Consumer Alert: Conned on Craiglist

Posted at: 07/16/2013 3:44 PM
Updated at: 07/16/2013 5:59 PM

It's hard to know who you can trust when buying online. There is no shortage of con-artists out there trying to take your money. That's what happened to one man who thought he was getting a deal on motorcycle parts.
This happened on Craigslist.  If you are buying from someone who don't know on a classified site like Craigslist, get as much documentation as you can from the seller, to help make sure the person you're dealing with is legit.

John didn't want to show his face on camera because he still can't believe he lost $1,300 in a Craigslist scam.

John said, “I was in search of parks for my Suzuki motorcycle and as I do a lot of internet shopping.”

John found the parts he wanted on Craigslist, 40% cheaper than the usual price. The seller asked to be paid with money orders. John overnighted the money and was told the parts would be sent immediately.  Days turned into weeks and then months. At first, he gave the seller the benefit of the doubt.

John said, "I thought maybe he's not trying to scam me and just fell on hard times."
Gil Webb, U.S. Postal Inspector, said, "The buyer was left waiting and waiting for parts that were never going to come."

John said, "I felt like someone broke into my house and robbed my house."
Postal inspectors say as more and more people shop online, the number of scams are growing.

Webb said, “The mindset of the scammer in this case is they want money and they don't care what it takes to get it.  It's a very emotionless crime that, they're just very greedy."

Inspectors say consumers need to be cautious buying online.

Webb said, "It's a red flag when the seller only wants to communication with you through emails because emails can be very anonymous."

Eventually, the seller, in this case, was arrested and is serving jail time for scamming John along with 14 other people.

John said, "The fact that he is in jail is a victory, not only for me, but also for all of the other people who were scammed by him."

Authorities say you should try to create a paper trail if possible when buying online so you have documentation of everything.

Craigslist is aware of the many scams that people try to pull using their website and offers some tips of its own. It says there's one rule you can follow that will help you avoid 99% of the scam attempts. They says deal locally with people who you can meet in person.