MATRIXSYNTH: CL Scams - Buyer Beware

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

CL Scams - Buyer Beware

See this post for common eBay scams.

A few CL scams were reported on the Analogue Heaven mailing list today. I thought I'd put a post up for new buyers. Always be careful out there. What I found interesting about the scams was when I think of Craigslist, I think of local pick-up only. I would never buy something from CL unless I was able to pick it up and try it out in person. I wondered what the seller might do if I were to state I'd like to pick it up and/or test it out. The following is an actual reply a list member, Mati, received from a seller:


My name is Sandra Cooper and I am now in London UK, the reason why I listed this ad in your local area is because a friend told me that I would get a better price and faster deal there than here in London and I am more than happy to ship it to you for free.
The item is in perfect condition barely used for a few hours so I wouldn't mind calling it brand new. Obviously we need a safe way to complete this deal without worrying about the safety of your money or my item.
The best way I could think of is to use a shipping company that will also act as an escrow service and found one with quite a good name.
I chose to use TNT WorldWide Transaction, a subsidiary of the well known(at least here in europe) TNT.
Using their services your money will be safe with them until you receive and check the product and I will rest assured that I'll get paid if you like and decide to keep the item. Also the company will provide you with 5 to 7 days to test the item and make sure you're making the right decision.
Please let me know what you think so I can explain to you the transaction steps in detail.

Thanks for your time,

The images in the listing were pulled from a valid Ebay auction.

A rule of thumb for Craiglist is to simply not buy unless you or a friend in the area can pick up and test the item in person. Make that clear to the seller, and if it's a scam the seller will most likely back out. And of course be careful meeting up with people. You never know what's out there. I'd pick a public place with outlets to test the gear. Bring headphones. Note Ebay is full of scams as well, review a seller's feedback, ask the right questions and be very careful. Also I try to filter out multiple scammers on the Ebay links on this site. If you catch any feel free to let me know and I'll review them for removal as well, but be careful, there are first time sellers out there and not everything suspect is a scam.

Update via Paul on AH:
"Hi all. Don't want to beat a dead horse, but there are a few methods by which you can suss out the type of scams we've been seeing on CL:
1. Do a google search on some of the text in the posting. I did that on the recent 909 scam and it returned clone ads in HongKong and Athens. I searched for the string "This is the one and only Tr-909. Nothing beats it! I had one a long time ago that wasn't as nice as this one." and google found some of the ads.
2. Another way is to use the jaxed service:
I just tried it now, and it shows the same 909 ad in over 30 cities now! These people are more spammers than scammers, it seems. They spray ads like bullets and hope they hit someone. Small chance anyone here will be taken for a ride, but it's nice to have some tools to help spot these kinds of scams.
Again, sorry if I'm out of line here, but if it prevents people from posting about a great deal on CL the next time this happens, it will have served its purpose."

If you have any tips feel free to comment.


  1. Fairly common. On the Chicago Craigslist there was a Cwejman S1mk2 for $799.00. Inquiries were met with the same type of email reply.

    Frankly, anyone who would go through a complicated transaction through a completely unvetted forum like Craigslist DESERVES to be scammed. Every single page you look at on Craigslist has a massive disclaimer/warning on it!

  2. Be careful of stuff under $1000 that would normally cost double. Beware of weird escrow companies. Do use Paypal, as the real hardcore scammers don't seem to like it very much.

  3. Lots of crazy gear showing up on St. Louis CL site… an 808, minimoog, etc… all in one week (that wouldn't happen in STL in five years)

  4. this happened to me on NYC craigslist recently, someone selling a multimoog for 600 dollars from florida. SCAM

  5. I cannot stress this enough. DO NOT bring cash and let them know you are not bringing any until you can test out the synth or device. Otherwise someone knowing you have hundreds or even thousands of dollars on you could rob you at gunpoint. This has been happening a lot in Tulsa with the autos section of Craigslist and they are even bold enough to do it in busy public places.

  6. Buy with a credit card when you can. The CC companies will usually refund and take care of things on their end.

  7. Note I added a link to this post in the More links section on the right of the site.

  8. The same Cwejman modular was on CL in Portland, OR. I e-mailed Sandra Cooper with ridiculous questions about the $900 Korg OASYS which was also on the Portland CL.

  9. Lately I've seen ads for Roland Jupiters (usually a J8 or a J6 with Europa) in the CL for smaller cities in Canada, rather than the larger cities like Toronto where such a scam would be flagged within about 2 min of being posted.

    Prices are borderline ridiculously low for these synths but high enough that you might consider it.

    Almost always the seller is 'out of the country'

  10. The most suspicious thing is that "better deal in the US for the seller". Both used and new studio gear (or any other electronics) is generally much more expensive in european states, even if it is manufactured there...



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