How to not get scammed

Alright fam. Time for some real talk. I want to preface this by saying I consider myself to be a pretty savvy person when it comes buying things online, whether it be through retailers like stubhub and amazon, or ebay and craigslist. I am always sure to make sure the ways I am spending my money are safe, and when dealing with craigslist listings, holding my own personal safety at the utmost importance.

All that said…I got scammed. I got scammed HARD. It left me feeling embarrassed, angry, and like such a moron, and above all else, I wish I would have listened to my gut, because it probably wouldn’t have happened. There is a lot of “could’ve, should’ve, would’ve” in my situation, but I feel that it is important to shed light on this apparently popular craigslist scam to ideally keep it from happening to others.

 

The rundown:

I was trying to buy weekend 1 Coachella tickets before they went on sale to the public via craigslist. I have a few friends who got pre-sale tickets through the official Coachella website so I knew the tickets were out there. I replied to a few postings on craigslist, with a few of them asking for my phone number so they could call and text me to talk about the tickets. I connected with an guy named “Jon Duran” and spoke with him on the phone multiple times before confirming I wanted the tickets. He was relatively personable, and seemed altogether average; no weird vibes.

The way Coachella does their ticketing services is that once you purchase passes, you are allowed to change the shipping and email addresses once before they ship out in late Feb/early March. He was to transfer the shipping and email addresses to my name, and all was going to be fine and dandy. I had him send screenshots of his proof of purchase, which seemed pretty standard but with no identifying qualities to them (didn’t list his name on the tickets, which I should have seen as a red flag, but I was too excited to pay attention to the little voice bringing up these inconsistencies…shame on me).

I was planning on buying 2 tickets with camping passes (about $900) and agreed to send him half the payment via Venmo (more on that below) with the other half after I received a confirmation email from Coachella with the address change. I’m sure you can guess what happened next…after I sent the payment, Jon dropped off the face of the earth. His number was disconnected and once my venmo payment went through, there was nothing I could do to stop it. I was out $450 and feeling pretty stupid. I contacted my bank and Venmo, but because I authorized the payment, it couldn’t be considered fraud. I currently have a claim with my bank processing, but there is currently nothing I can do besides file a police report and feel like a chump.

 

 

How (I think) the scammer did it:

The scammer most likely used Google voice, a service offered by Google that essentially replaces your current number with an online telephone number from anywhere in the world, allowing you to choose your area code. The scammer that I was in contact with used an area code I was familiar with, which I’ll admit, made it seem more legitimate.

The scammer requested to be paid via Venmo, for those unfamiliar, is a payment service owned by PayPal that allows you to send money electronically to friends almost instantly. It is against Venmo’s policy to use it’s services to buy goods from merchants, so by adding the scammer as a friend, you are essentially allowing the scammer to circumnavigate most seller/buyer protection rights. Once the money went through (according to him, my payment was pending for a day or two, so I was left waiting with no tickets) he deleted his Google Voice number and left me essentially $-450 wiser.

 

So for all y’all planning on continuing to use Craigslist, here are some lil wisdom nuggets for you:

 

Don’t send any money until seeing the actual product in person.

Cash is king in most transactions. If you can, do as many transactions face-to-face, even if it is an address transfer for coachella tickets. Bring a friend, meet at a coffee shop, and take care of business.

Don’t let emotions cloud your judgement.

I know you’re excited about the potential joy the “thing” you’re wanting could bring you, but you’ve gotta cover your ass too. This is a financial transaction, keep a level head and emotions out of it.

If they are in any way reluctant to share their identity with you, GTFO.

Seriously. In this age of everyone being online, secrecy is hella suspicious. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read! Stay safe out there folks, the internet can be a scummy place. Stay positive, listen to your gut, and if you know someone looking to buy concert tickets off craigslist…spread the word. Namaste.

Elizabeth

 

Do you have any scam horror stories, or see anything I missed? Or are you a hacker who can track down the scumbag scammer for me Liam Neeson style? If so, leave a comment below 🙂

 

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