Encounter with a Craigslist scammer

So the other day I posted a phone up on Craigslist since I have no use for it at all. I figured that I might get a few valid hits … but just moments after I posted it I got the following email.

From: Rita Smith
Please am interested to buy your item and i do believe that your item is in
Good Condition, please do get back to me with your firm price asap,
Thanks.

I figured at this point it just MIGHT be legit, since I didn’t post the condition. Though the price was pretty clearly specified. I responded with the following.

Hi Rita,
Per my listing I want to get $200 for it. Its in great condition as well.
Shelby DeNike

I then got the following email back from Rita. This was a CLEAR sign that it was a scam attempt. You would think that the scammers would think it through a little better instead of just dropping some bs line about how they need the money sent via PayPal and then mailed to some far off place such as Africa. Not to mention how they increase the purchasing price so much, even for a small item such as a phone.

Hello Shelby,
I got your mail.
Actually i am from Salt Lake city in Utah but want to purchase for my daughter that is currently in West Africa working with American Embassy,her birthday is coming up so i want to buy a surprise gift for her.Please if you do have a PayPal account,provide it to me so that I will Make the payment to you. It’s secure and protects two parties in a transaction.
I will be paying you the total of $280 for both the cost price and the shipping.
Please i need the information fast so that your payment will reach you before the
day runs out to enable you ship the Packages fast.
Thanks for anticipation.
Rita….

At this point since I knew that it was a scammer I decided to play a long, In the end I was hoping I could reverse the scam and make some money off the scammer.

Hi Rita,
I am very excited about this sale! $280 sounds perfect for shipping and
the phone as I assume that will cover the shipping charges. I dont have a
PayPal account but I can send you my address so you can send me a check
for it. Let me know!
Shelby DeNike

With the added excitement I had I think it caught the scammer and got them a bit excited as they sent me more information about getting PayPal account and what not. Also they tried to make it sound like they were sooo busy that this would be the easy way to get the funds. Though if you notice its about at this point where she went from a Mother who I can only imagine would be in her late 40’s or early 50’s since she has a daughter in Africa doing god only knows what over there to using “cos” instead of because …

Hello Shelby,
I will advice you open an account with PayPal cos It’s secure and protects two parties in a transaction.Just go to www.PayPal.com and sign up an account so that i will send the money to you.To sign up an account is free.Let me know once the account is set up so that i will proceed with the payment cos am very busy at the office right now.
Thanks for understanding.
Rita…

Still playing along with her at this point, acting mildly stupid about it. Figured if I act like I am semi new to the internet this would go further.

Hi Rita,
Thanks for getting back to me on this so quickly. Actually it seems I
already had an account on PayPal from a long time ago. My account is
shelby@7pounds.net. Once I get the money transferred to my account I can
send out the phone. What address do I need to send it to? You or do you
want me to directly mail it to your daughter? Thanks!
Shelby DeNike

Her simple response, not even including her name… she must have been really busy as stated earlier

Let me know once the account is set up so that i will proceed with the payment.

At this point I sent her my email address hoping that I would see some funds dropped into my PayPal account with another notice about how they rest of the money will be on its way or something along those lines … But instead magically I got an email from PayPal saying all the funds were deposited … funny as I was logged into my PayPal and no such funds were sent. Upon looking at the email headers of the PayPal message you can see it was sent from a Yahoo account pretending to be from PayPal

Paypal.com Fake Email
Paypal.com Fake Email

Subject: Rita Smith has sent you an Auction Payment using PayPal.{Transaction ID:8UG760668M701084Y}
From: service@PayPal.com
Date: Wed, February 24, 2010 10:36 am
To: isshelby@7pounds.net
Priority: Normal
Mailer: YahooMailClassic/9.2.12 YahooMailWebService/0.8.100.260964

At this point I decided the gig was up and decided to just spoil my fun with the following email back to Rita.

Hi Rita,
Well that was the worst scam attempt I have seen. You should really read
up on proper English dialog so you don’t make such simple mistakes. You
sent a fake PayPal notice to me coming from ymail.com, that’s the first
thing that really will make so people know its a scam, not to mention you
spelled my email address wrong on the notice, that being said an incorrect
spelling would NOT deliver the mail to me. So you need to make sure you
are not so sloppy next time. If you notice I said “my account is
shelby@7pounds.net” you sent the email to isshelby@7pounds.net, and even
the fake pay pal notice stated that it was sent to isshelby@7pounds.net,
since that’s not my address it would have NOT been delivered to me. Better
luck next time!
Shelby DeNike

I have not heard back, but if you want to get ahold of Rita yourself here email address is ritasmith55@live.com. I also attached and screen grab of the fake PayPal email that was sent to me. Looks somewhat legit.