Seller Beware

It was my first time. I was a Craig’s List virgin. But I’ve given it up for life.  From now on, I will be a Craig’s List celibate – a “volcel,” you could call me.

John and I are cleaning out, packing up, and putting our house on the market. Naturally, then, it was time to sell the weight machine we bought for Jacob in 2008, when he was playing rugby.  A neighbor who bought nothing but the best stuff, sold it to us for a song.  Of course, nobody has used it since, oh, 2009, unless one needed an expensive piece of fitness equipment to “hold my beer” in Jacob’s man cave.

I listed it for $400. And I got a bite! Or maybe, I got bitten.

You see, a very busy man named (and I am not making this up) Scalzo McRoy from nearby Maryland wanted to buy it! In spite of his weird name, I was willing to sell it to him (or really, to anybody who would take the damn thing). Scalzo contacted me by email, offered the full price, and said he would arrange for someone to move it.

“I’m familiar with the make and model, and from the pictures, it looks to be in great shape,” he wrote. “My secretary will send you a certified check.  Is it OK if I write the check to you, and include the fee for the movers in it? Then you can pay them in cash when they come to get it.”

“You don’t need to give me a certified check,” I responded. He ignored me.

Friday afternoon, a certified check did arrive – for $1,550.00. One thousand, one hundred and fifty dollars over the asking price.  Now, the machine is big and heavy, and it will not be cheap to move.  But $1,150? Were they going to buy a new truck for the move?

“Scalzo,” I wrote him after picking my jaw up off the floor, “this seems excessive.” But it was a certified check in my name, so I needed to go to the bank with it.

“Fifty dollars is for you, for your help,” he informed me.

He was giving me a tip.  And who do you think was going to move it, Don Jr. and Eric?

Eric and Don Jr - SNL

SNL as you all know.

Scalzo then asked me to get the movers a money order that afternoon, send him a photocopy of it, and send the money order for $1100 to the movers in Texas.

No wonder moving it was so expensive! Scalzo was going to import movers from Texas to Virginia!

Now I’ve never heard of a bogus certified check. Nevertheless, I went into the bank and told them the story as I tried to deposit the money.

“There seems to be a problem here,” Amy, my bank teller said.  “Do you mind waiting for a minute or two?”

So I sat and waited while each and every bank rep looked first at me, then at the check, then at me again.

Aiden, the bank manager, called me over to his desk.

“The check is fraudulent,” Aiden informed me. He asked for the story of how I’d gotten it. I told him about Craig’s List, Scalzo, the extra money (including my tip), and the request to send a $1100 money order to guys who were going to come from Texas to move a weight machine from Virginia to Maryland.

We contacted the police, and filed a report. Apparently, this sort of scam is not at all uncommon. And because the seller receives a “Certified” check, lots of people fall for it.

I did not send a money order to Scalzo’s Texas connection.

The moral of this story is:


Anybody need a weight machine? Cheap? You haul …

Hoist 1


Filed under Humor

64 responses to “Seller Beware

  1. It’s actually a pretty common scam – i’ve bought stuff, looked for rentals, and posted ads on Craigslist myself, and lots of times I remember seeing a warning about scammers sending a certified check for an excessive amount, and asking to wire back the difference.
    And since you’re selling your house, I’m assuming you’re about to buy a new place, so I should warn you about another scam my coworker nearly fell victim to while buying a house: he got an email from his broker telling him he should wire the part of the down payment to the escrow account to prepare for the closing. He did, and talked to his broker, who did not know anything about it. Turns out, a scammer hacked the broker’s email account and asked for a wire to himself.
    The coworker got lucky that it was not a regular business day and the wire did not yet go through.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to worry my mom would be taken in this way. And not detect it, the way you did. She’s so trusting and open. Can you imagine putting all that time and energy into scamming people? Why don’t they just get a job?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow. I did not know that. But what a great looking machine. Thanks for the heads-up. And good luck with the move.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Seller Beware — FiftyFourandAHalf – Citizens of green

  5. Wow. That big check would have made me suspicious, too. Glad you took it to the bank and got it checked out and didn’t get burned. Scams are everywhere. I used to work in a geriatric medical clinic, heard so many stories. They prey on naïve elderly folks, so wrong. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So glad you hadn’t parted with any real money. In my banking days, I picked up a lot of fraudulent cheques/bankers drafts and travellers cheques……….. almost $2M worth over about two years. I had a knack for it.
    The other thing is money laundering, and this is the kind of scam used to get money into the system.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Definitely a cautionary tale for others. I’m glad went through the process with the bank and police. And yes, that’s a very strange name. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s why I wrote it. If there weren’t so many red flags, I might have just deposited a certified check….but the extra $1100 was just too suspicious!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Scary that they almost tricked someone as smart as you because imagine how many others lose their money.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Another good reason not to buy exercise equipment! Hard to get rid of. A long time ago I had a stationary bicycle. I used it less than 10 times. Every time a friend wanted to buy one, I loaned them mine (hoping they didn’t give it back but they always did). I moved from the area so the last unsuspecting borrower was stuck with it! Now I go to the gym. Glad you figured it out or the bank did. I am skeptical of most things these days. So sad.


    • It is sad. We actually use most of the exercise equipment we have (bike and treadmill). The weight machine was for our son who was playing Rugby. But only used it for about a year before he stopped playing rugby. Oh well.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Susan from Boston

    As I read your story, my blood pressure began to rise while my mind chattered on: “Dear God, please tell me you did not give them the money order, this is a scam.” So relieved you didn’t. Whew!!!
    I buy and sell a lot of stuff on Craig’s List. Not long ago, a pregnant woman was murdered because she responded to an Ad from a seller who was selling baby clothes. The pregnant woman took the bait, went to the woman’s house and was murdered for her baby! Imagine? Since that story broke, my town Police Department set up a section of their parking lot for “on-line transactions” with camera’s. Anytime I want to sell something, I tell the buyer to meet me at the police station in the designated lot with the camera’s. If they refuse, well then, I’ve weeded out the dishonest people. If the item I am selling is too large to move to the police station. Then I have the seller meet me at my house and arrange for a man to be present with me (usually one of the husbands on my street). Also, all transactions are cash only. No checks, no money orders, no nada. It’s too bad this is what the world has come to, that we have to take extra precautions just to sell something. On the other hand, if I am buying something, I immediately ask for their cell phone and I take someone with me when I go to pick up the item. I suppose we can never be too careful. Glad you came out of this one unscathed.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Susan from Boston

      *correction: cameras, not camera’s (I’m still working on my coffee). 😐

      Liked by 1 person

      • Spell check has a way of screwing everything up. It keeps changing you’re to Your and I don’t notice till I’ve hit the send button!


    • Thanks, Susan. It IS scary that we have to be so wary, and that there are such awful people out there. I won’t go back on Craig’s list. I will donate and toss. Sigh.


  11. Since the horrific murder of local family man who tried to sell his truck on line, I have stayed away from both Craigs List and Kiijji. Believe me it can get a lot worse than a scam. I have found some success using Buy, Sell groups on facebook in a specific area. If they are members of the group you can check them out on facebook ahead of time and they are usually in the area as a default so there is not going to be a big transport fee.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow! That is crazy, and a lesson learned for me today. Honestly, it seems like a lot of work to come up with these scams, who the hell has that time?
    Now, I swear if you move to Canada without enough room for all of us. I’m going to be very upset. No pressure ….

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I read about this scam on Facebook a few months ago. I also read on NextDoor that they are pulling the same scam on LetGo and OfferUp. There was someone else on NextDoor who posted an alert. It seems his house was sold. Only problem is that he knew nothing about it. Here’s what he posted:

    Someone sold my house, without our consent. A lady impersonating my wife proceeded to sell my home to a private investor. Came home from work to find my locks changed. Had to breakin my own house. Locksmith should have verified ownership, he’s learned his lesson. The investor should have done his due diligence. The closing agent, has royally screwed up. Apparently, they were waiting for me to come sign the docs, but i think the deal was finalized. Sunrise PD says its a civil matter, how? My attorney is now unwinding this debacle.

    So, buyer beware, seller beware, homeowner beware. Crooks can be so creative.


  14. Anyone who agrees to buy something as ridiculous as a weight machine is suspect, in my view. Perhaps you should require them to come over and try it out first, before agreeing to sell to them.

    On a kind of related note, we put our house on the market last year as a “For Sale By Owner.” The very next day someone drove by and asked if our house was still for rent? For rent?! A scammer had listed our house on Craig’s List for rent, within 24 hours after we had listed it on Zillow for sale. It took a few hours work, but I finally got the Craig’s List ad removed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes. You’re right. On the other hand, it’s not something I could stick in a box and mail, so I wasn’t in any danger that way.

      Scary about your house. What did anyone have to gain from doing that?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I understand that fake rentals on Craig’s List is a fairly common scam. The unwitting victim pays the first and last month’s rent to someone posing as the landlord, but (in most cases) never gains access to the house. It’s sad, because poor people are usually victimized and left homeless by this scam, having lost all their rent money to the scammer.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Danny and I were involved in a similar Craig’s list scam. They used one of our checks! It was an obvious stamped signature but we got calls for months. We reported it, but they didn’t do anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Scammers! I’m seriously getting tired of liars and cheaters . . . across the board. Where has honesty gone? You know . . . Truth, justice and the American way? Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. WTF? Good diligence on your bank. Reading how he tried to scam you made me boil. What a slick, slippery, slimy, sleazy, skeezy, scumbucket that skanky scammer is. He is also a scro..sucker.. Anyone may fill in the blanks on that one.

    I’m glad you avoided being scsmmed and thank you for the warning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was at the bank again today and chatted with the teller. She said that she might have just processed the check if she had been busy or if there was a line of people. Other people just deposit them, thinking they are like cash, at the ATM.

      That’s how these guys get their victims.


      • Thank you again for the lesson. Fraud disgusts me, bank or any other kind. Thanks again for the heads up. I hope the fraudster is caught.


      • I was at the bank again today and chatted with the teller. She said that she might have just processed the check if she had been busy or if there was a line of people. Other people just deposit them, thinking they are like cash, at the ATM.

        I too got an offer of a “certified check” from a Craig’s List person, $100 for a pair of noise-cancelling head phones. I actually considered accepting it, thinking that if I had deposited it, it would be a done deal. It seemed somehow more feasible that it was a woman’s name that offered. Your post here makes me feel better about it, Elyse.

        I wonder how much time it takes for such a check to clear, once deposited? But it really doesn’t matter, does it? Cash is the only way to go on Craig’s list. I used it successfully one other time when a woman bought an iPad from me for her daughter. She came to my house but on reflection I should probably have chosen a public place, say, like the food court at the mall.

        Once bitten, twice shy, eh?

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Wow … a new one for me. Good luck with your move.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Deb

    Well thank god that it didn’t go any further than the bank Elyse! That name was hilarious and of course it was all too good to be true. I would rather put a free sign on it and set it out by the sidewalk to be honest. I’ve gotten rid of many things that way and in the end was glad I didn’t have to hassle with shady folks coming to my house and/or con artists like your guy Scalzo!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t think Scalzo was a particularly good con artist! But the police told me that, because it’s a “certified” check, people fall for this all the time.

      If it weren’t huge and very heavy, I would just put it out. Now I am trying to find a school or gym that serves communities to donate it. Pain in the neck!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Ah yes, I’ve heard of those scams. Glad you got it sorted out.

    Liked by 1 person

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