Recently I began a maddening quest to find a gently used iPad Pro through the usual avenues. (Online retailers, refurb sites, eBay and…. Craigslist.)
Yeah, I know. They have a lot of scammers looking to victimize people. Everyday there is some news horror story of a robbery, stabbing, shooting or other form of murder. It’s all over the news and I recognize the circumstances of meeting a stranger for a cash and goods exchange is risky, very risky. I know. I know.
Surely with meeting at a public place, in daylight after exchanging personal information for safety reasons, it could be a reasonably safe way to buy and sell things, right? I mean, a flea market is just one step less formal. Surely there are still honest people utilizing the site to find legitament buyers and sellers, right? Right?
So far, my experience has been incredibly negative. I’ve been studying the listings in my area and in other surroundings for reasonable deals. You know the olds saying: “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
Apple doesn’t discount their products, even if you buy 5000 to resell. Therefore, if a person is selling a “sealed, unopened unit” for $200 below retail, it’s suspicious at best. If you are curious enough to inquire why they would be selling far below retail price, they explain that they “got a good deal.” Or “it was a gift that I don’t need.” When pressed why they don’t just return it for a full, retail refund, they either say that they waited too long to return it, or by returning it, the credit will go back to the purchaser (of the ‘gift’ and “hurt their feelings.”
Ah, makes perfect sense now. That is how I can get a brand new iPad below retail price. I wonder if the scammers have an excuses database to confer with, in case their would-be target gets too clever. I’ve heard some Jim dandy explanations. Meanwhile, the: “I bought this thing recently and it’s great but I just don’t need it.” stories are a little harder to spot.
They sound more reasonable. They aren’t pretending to have brand new items. Only ‘like new’ items. That’s closer to what I was looking for and could actually be true. One ‘seller’ I contacted claimed to have just such a deal but when I asked him 4 numbered questions, he only answered 2 of them (and then very briefly). Red flag, right? I moved on in my search and a few days later, he emailed back and simply asked if I was interested. I repeated the two unanswered questions.
This time he answered one of them and ignored the last one (again). When I ignored the thread again, out of the blue he sent me an obscene offer that had NOTHING to do with an iPad. I couldn’t resist replying back by mocking his pitiful grammar and juvenile offer. (Maybe he thought I was a woman since my name could be either gender.) Then he emailed back and said he would use his… to ….. (Well, you get the idea.) I was almost tempted to email back said say that I was starting to think he didn’t really have an iPad to sell at all…😂
Meanwhile weeks go by with varying levels of believable offers in different towns around the area. Some sellers responded back. Others did not. I honestly believe that more than half (of the realistic offers) were real, honest sellers with honest to goodness iPads for sale but their prices were so close to retail price (which I can’t afford, or Id buy new at a store and not risk getting stabbed for an iPad.)
Last night I came across a deal that was at the Inside edge of believability and so I messaged ‘Jason’ about the circumstances. He and I texted back and forth for a while and I began to wonder of “this is the one.” He was polite and reasonably articulate (something I can’t say about the dozens of others I have corresponded with (or read listings by) so I took it as a potential real deal. I asked my sister about the area (she’s a detective in a nearby metropolitan police department) and after receiving the ‘riot act’ for even considering a craigslist transaction (she has dealt with many crimes related to it); I assured her it was only in the consideration stages.
She recommended that (if I must) to meet at the police station AND she was going to meet me and ride along for protection (think Daisy Duke toting 44 magnums and you have a good idea).
She did a little Investigating and the info she found didn’t cast a positive light on the individual. First of all, his phone number was registered to a person with another name and that it was a ‘throw away’ phone. Two red flags right there. I defended that the phone directory could be old (and now reassigned to a new person while the database was still listing the previous owner) Or that the registered owner was just a different member of the family). My sister wasn’t having any of my devil’s advocacy. She smelled a rat and while I was still skeptical, I mostly agreed. We started looking on eBay and Amazon again.
Anyway, ‘Jason’ texted me again the next morning and asked if I was still interested because he was “getting a lot of interest but he was going to give me first shot since I contacted him first.” I decided to shine a spotlight on him and see what he would say when I asked who the registered owner of the phone texting me was, if he was ‘Jason’. Below was the exchange:
The sad thing is that even after dealing with scammers like this, I still want to look through the craigslist ads. It’s some sort of masochistic sickness. There HAS to be at least one honest person left there, right? Right? BTW, I see that ‘Jason’ is now ‘Chris’; and he has expressed his frustration at ‘scammers’ and ‘time wasters’ in his new ad.
With the last honest person shut off the lights at Craigslist? 😠