Be aware. Beware.

Look next for the Nigerian prince on the popular classified site

| He was looking for a new job and thought to check out the listings on craigslist.

Over 4500 jobs are currently listed on the Palm Springs site. An ad for a house cleaning job caught his eye. Not all that attractive as a long-term prospect, but for the short-term, it would keep the creditors from the door. He sent off his resume.

Ad for house cleaner

Soon enough, a reply popped into his intray.

Date: Sun, 28 Dec 2014 07:16:50 -0800
Subject: Re: House cleaning


Good day to you and thank you for your timely response. The house is a two bedroom unfurnished apartment. I will like you to know that you will be responsible for general cleaning of hallways (dusting, vacuuming and mopping), doors, windows, pick up trash in common areas, sweeping and changing light bulbs etc. I am a consultant Agent currently working with Fair Trade Organization (FTO). I’m currently out of the states and I will be arriving to the states soon, I want the apartment to be worked on and get clean before my arrival.

I wont be able to make payment to you but i will instruct my secretary to make payment out to you, She will be sending you the payment in form of business check, which you will get soonest this is because i don't want any delay in your cleaning service, I want the house to look as clean as possible. I want you to know that I will be paying you $700 every 2 weeks if you are willing and ready to work for me; cleaning the house. If you are interested in the work, I will instruct my secretary to email an upfront payment of $400 to you so as to know how serious I am with the cleaning job I want you to do.

So as for my secretary to send the upfront payment to you; I will like to have the below information so i can instruct her to send the payment to you;

1. Full Name 2. Mailing Address ( NOT P O BOX),
3. City
4. State and Zip Code
5. Phone Number
6. Age, Sex and marital status.
7. Current Occupation

Thanks for showing interest in the post and hope all this arrangement is okay by You, if so do email back as soon as possible so that i can make the arrangement for the check ASAP, I will really appreciate your mail and I believe you will enjoy working with me.

Best Regards,

Apart from the obvious spelling, grammar, and typing errors, this message already sounds suspicious: Doesn't the sender have a name? ("Best Regards," and that's it). $700 to pick up trash and change light bulbs? (Generous, indeed). He's "out of the states" but the "secretary" can send a "business check"? (Yeah, right!).

Nevertheless, he replied with the requested information and received a prompt reply:

Date: Mon, 29 Dec 2014 13:17:43 -0800
Subject: Re: House cleaning


How are you doing today and thanks for your email. I will like to get you updated and I'm confident to tell you that you are going to received the check soon. I have forwarded your information to my apartment agent who is getting me the apartment in your area where i will be moving in upon my arrival back to the states and he just sent me an email that he has gotten an apartment for me in your location and had given my secretary the address and the key to the house; But there is a little problem which I think you can handle with level of maturity.

There is an arrangement with a painter who is going to paint the house before my arrival and as i told you earlier that my secretary was going to send you upfront check; she is meant to send you a check and another check to the painter. In the process of making the check, she made a mistake by sending you all the whole check payment of $$2200 instead of her to send you just $400 for the upfront payment for the first 2 weeks payment as agreed earlier and send the remaining to the painter, she sent just the entrance key to the house to the painter only.

The painter will contact you when he want to come over to get started with his task, So i want you to make sure you do get started with the cleaning same day she contact you, i will be needing your trust and favor because if we recall the check its going to cost us extra and unnecessary money and delay us, So now you are going to received a check of ($2200), I will furnish you with the painter's name and address where you will be sending the money to as soon as you receive the check. We just need to be sure you are honest and trustworthy, I will be looking forward to hear from you.


Oh, yes, you'll get the check right away! Now we find out that the secretary must be in the Palm Springs area because the "apartment agent" found an apartment and gave the key to the secretary!

But there's a slight complication. There is a painter who is supposed to be getting an advance as well, but the silly secretary put both advances into the same check. But never mind, it can be handled "with level of maturity" simply by "sending the money" to the painter "as soon as you receive the check." This is a test: we'll see if you are "honest and trustworthy." 

At this point, he decided it was definitely a scam and would do nothing more. And several days went by before another email arrived to say the check was on its way and work would begin ASAP!

Date: Sun, 11 Jan 2015 15:59:51 -0800
Subject: Re: House cleaning

Happy Sunday , i just want to inform you that you will start working this week and my check will deliver to you tomorrow and i will give the delivery tracking number tomorrow and the instruction to follow immediately you receive the check so let me know when you receive this message ...


Sure enough, on Monday morning the UPS truck arrived with an envelope containing a check for $2200! The UPS shipment came from Seattle and the check purported to be from a company in Chicago and was drawn on JP Morgan Chase.

He had already decided that even if he got the check, he was doing nothing until the check had been deposited and cleared the bank. But since there is a local Chase branch, they should be able to tell if the check was for a real account with money in it, so off he went to the bank to inquire.

At the bank he was told, "LOL, we get 10 of those every week!" Obviously, that was the end of that.

What's afoot?

It's interesting to try to figure out the scheme here.

A key to the scheme seems to be sending the "painter" his $1800 "as soon as you receive the check." Potentially that could put $1800 of his money in the hands of the scammer (because the painter is obviously in on the con) before the deposited check is proven fake.

I think, however, something more nefarious is in the works. With his check for $1800 and all of the personal information requested in the first email, the scammer would have a bank account number and numerous personal details. My guess is that the checking account would have been wiped out instantly. Alternatively, the check could be altered and used to purchase who-knows-what-for-how-much.

But wait, there's more!

It would be bad enough if this were an isolated instance of craigslist being used to prey on vulnerable people looking for a job. But a second ad that he responded initiated a similar chain of events:

Date: Sun, 4 Jan 2015 18:48:27 -0500
Subject: Re: General Worker Full Time 1st Shift=======$18/HR


Thank you for contacting me regarding the position posted on Craigslist. I am sorry to inform you that the stated position has been occupied and our hiring process for that post is over. However, after your resume was reviewed. I found a position suitable for you to occupy till the end of the last quarter of this year. If you are able to handle this position well, you will automatically be selected for the position you applied for in the first quarter of next year as an existing staff..

My name is Henry Mcdowell. I am 54 years old, married with 2 children. I am a relatively successful entrepreneur and also a Professional Photographer. I have been a freelance photographer for over 26 years, with much of that spent as a fashion photographer. My experience in fashion gives me a creative edge in portraiture and an ability to bring out the best in everybody.

I am sure you understand how busy my schedule is on a daily basis. Currently, I am in Europe meeting with partners. I will be back in less than 4 weeks to arrange a formal interview with you. I think you are the right person for this position. Please note that this position is not office-based for now because of my frequent travels and tight schedules. It is a part-time job, and some weeks you will be busier than others, though pay stays constant. Like I said, I think you are the right person for this job, and think we should get a head start this week. I have a lot of work piled up that I will need help catching up on immediately. I would like to use this coming week to test your efficiency and diligence, and to work your schedule around mine. I am hard of hearing and usually stay in touch through email, but if you would like me to call, I will be glad to do that. I am glad you responded to my ad in such a timely manner and look forward to working with you and promise to be a good boss.

I travel often within and outside of the United States working on various independent projects. This is why I need someone who can help keep me up to date with all of my activities, especially while I am away and amidst my busy schedule. My previous personal assistant is currently unavailable for health reasons and I am keen on finding an efficient, motivated, organized individual who can communicate well and is able to multi-task under pressure. I'm looking for someone that can be trusted and reliable to work very well with good understanding as my Personal Assistant.

As I have said, I'd want us to get a head START with things as soon as possible.I do have lots of works piled up presently and a number of unattended chores which you can immediately assist me with, I hope we can meet up with the workload eventually. Permit me to use the coming week to test your efficiency and diligence towards all this, also to work out your time schedule and fit it to mine. I really need to find the perfect person for this job, I'm confident you can take up the challenge and on the long run we should have a relatively sound working relationship between us.. I'm online most of the time as I am hard of hearing so I prefer we contact each other through E-mails, but if there is need for me to call, I will be glad to do that through Relay Call. I am glad you are willing to work with me and i promise to be a good boss. I am also glad on the commitment in working. I have been checking my files and what i would want you to do for me this week and week is to run some errands out to some of the orphanage home, I do that every month.

This position I am offering is home-based and flexible, working with me is basically about instructions and following them, my only fear is that I may come to you impromptu sometimes, so I need someone who can be able to meet up with my irregular timings. As my personal assistant, your activities amongst other things will include;

Duties and Requirements:

*Handling and monitoring some of my financial activities.
*Processing weekly check payment.
*Some personal assistant duties for owners, and many other

Basic wage is $520 weekly from start date.

A payment inform of a Certified Check Payment will be sent over to you from one of my financial manager and i have some lists to email you once you received the funds, You will make some arrangements by buying some stuff for the kids in the Orphanage at any nearest store around you so you can mail them out. I will get you more information on that, I will like you to get back to me with your Contact Details such as

NATIONALITY: ___________________________

Are you eligible to work in the United States? Yes ____ No_____

If you are under age 18, do you have an employment/age certificate? Yes ___ No ___

How often do you check your email: ______________

Days/Hours Available: Hours Available: from _______ to ______

What date are you available to start work? ________________

Thanks in anticipation for your prompt response.

Once I have receive your contact information, I will get back to you with the task for next week, You will also be paid upfront as its important you help me handle some errands before i get back from my business trip.

Yours Sincerely,

Henry Mcdowell.

Again, this guy is conveniently out of the country, but he is so eager to have him start work that he will pay him in advance, and handsomely too ($520 to buy "some stuff for the kids in the Orphanage" and mail it out doesn't seem too hard). This one offers lots of biographical details to make him more plausible, but you have to really suspend disbelief to think that someone who has been "a freelance photographer for over 26 years, with much of that spent as a fashion photographer" has left no tracks to be picked up by omniscient Google. Funny, isn't it, how they overlooked this fine fellow?

This is just dangling the bait, waiting for a nibble. Without even thinking very hard, we can easily see that this would not end well.

Scams on craigslist are apparently common enough that craigslist offers a whole page on avoiding scams. The first bit of advice is:
Deal locally, face-to-face —follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts.

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018



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