Scam Warning

Avoiding scams and fraud on the Sandpoint Classifieds

Unfortunately, many unscrupulous individuals attempt to carry off scams and frauds on people who utilize online classified ads, including the FREE Classifieds. You can sidestep would-be scammers by following the common-sense rules below. This information has been adapted from

  • DEAL LOCALLY WITH FOLKS YOU CAN MEET IN PERSON - follow this one simple rule and you will avoid 99% of the scam attempts on the Sandpoint Free Classifieds.
  • NEVER WIRE FUNDS VIA WESTERN UNION, MONEYGRAM or any other wire service - anyone who asks you to do so is a scammer.
  • NEVER GIVE OUT FINANCIAL INFORMATION (bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.)

Recognizing scams

Most scams involve one or more of the following:

  • inquiry from someone far away, often in another country
  • the inquiry is often (not always) written in very poor English
  • Western Union, Money Gram, cashier's check, money order, shipping, escrow service, or a "guarantee"
  • inability or refusal to meet face-to-face before consumating transaction

With the points above as a guide, you can often easily identify an inquiry as a scam, in which case it's best to simply delete the inquiry and do not reply. That's because, as long as you haven't added it to the text of your ad listing, our ad system keeps your e-mail private and the scammer has contacted you through a form on the web page. If you don't respond, he can't get your e-mail address.

Who should I notify about fraud or scam attempts?

If you suspect that an item posted for sale on the Sandpoint FREE Classifieds may be part of a scam, please email the details to [email protected]. Be sure to include the post ID number in your message. You may also try the following resources.

  • FTC toll free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)
  • FTC online complaint form (
  • Canadian PhoneBusters hotline: 888-495-8501
  • Internet Fraud Complaint Center (
  • Non-emergency number for your local police department.

Examples of Scams

1. A distant person offers a genuine-looking (but fake) cashier's check

  • you receive an email (examples below) offering to buy your item, or rent your apartment, sight unseen.
  • cashier's check is offered for your sale item, as a deposit for an apartment, or for just about anything else of value.
  • value of cashier's check often far exceeds your item - scammer offers to "trust" you, and asks you to wire the balance via money transfer service
  • banks will often cash these fake checks AND THEN HOLD YOU RESPONSIBLE WHEN THE CHECK FAILS TO CLEAR, including criminal prosecution in some cases!
  • scam often involves a 3rd party (shipping agent, business associate owing buyer money, etc)

2. Someone requests wire service payment via Western Union or MoneyGram:

  • Often claim that an MTCN or confirmation code is needed before he can withdraw your money - this is FALSE, once you've wired money, it is GONE.
  • Scam "bait" items include laptops, plasma TVs, cell phones, tickets - but could be almost anything
  • common countries currently include: Nigeria, Romania, Ukraine, Spain, UK, Italy, Netherlands - but could be anywhere
  • deal often seems too good to be true

3. distant person offers to send you a money order and then have you wire money:

  • this is ALWAYS a scam, in our experience - the cashier's check is FAKE
  • sometimes accompanies an offer of merchandise, sometimes not
  • scammer often asks for your name, address, etc for printing on the fake check
  • deal often seems too good to be true

4. distant seller suggests use of an online escrow service.

  • most online escrow sites are FRAUDULENT, operated by scammers
  • for more info, do a google search on "fake escrow" or "escrow fraud"

5. distant seller asks for a partial payment upfront, after which he will ship goods

  • he says he trusts you with the partial payment
  • he may say he has already shipped the goods
  • deal often sounds too good to be true

6. foreign company offers you a job receiving payments from customers, then wiring funds

  • foreign company may claim it is unable to receive payments from its customers directly
  • you are typically offered a percentage of payments received
  • this kind of "position" may be posted as a job, or offered to you via email

Actual scam emails sent to classified ad sellers

Hello ,
Thanks for your mail back concerning the inquiry mail i sent to you. 
The price,condition also the pics i viewed is okay by me .And my client 
confirm there is no problem about the price($975 ) ,my client do pays with 
a {USA}cashier check,he has agreed to mail out as bank cashiers check of 
$3500. to you on my behalf to cover the shippment fees.About the shippment, 
that we be taken care by my me & my personal assistant,my personal assistant 
will be using his shipper to do the quick processing of the shipping of 
the(1987 Toyota Celica) to my client.
So all you are to do after you will received the check in your mail, 
Just take out your sale amount and refer the remaining money to my shipper 
immediately through the westernunion or the money gramm outlet so to get the 
money fast and start the fast arrangement for the pickup of the 
(1987 Toyota Celica).Since you are the original owner of this item,and i 
am buying the item directly from you i will like you to write your full name 
to be on the check,with the mailing address which my client will be using 
to issued out the check to you.I do wish to trust you by refering the rest 
balance back to my shipper and also your fast doing to this transaction.
I will like to hear fromyou if this is okay by you and you are ready to 
process ,if you aready to sale your item and promise refering the rest 
balance to my shipper immediately you received the check so can start the 
quick arrangement for the pickup. Any body that want to buy this item 
this item just tell therm that it as been sold. I will like to copmplete 
this transaction befor the new year. I be at my computer waiting to see 
your epky to my payment method mailed.


Thanks for getting back to me,i will be
purchasing the motorbike Like i said earlier i am based in the
netherlands(holland).there won't be any probs about the shipment,after
payment ,the pick up will be made at your place. i have made arrangements
with the prepaid shipping company. As regards payment,this is what i am
going to do;I have a client in ENGLAND who is owing me 5800POUNDS i would
instruct him to make out a money order/certifiedcheck to you in that
amount and as soon as it clears your bank. you can now deduct your money
from it and send me my balance,i will using use part of the money to pay
for the shipping and other expenses .you will then send my balance by via
western union money transfer.Although the value of the check is more than
the asking price but i think i should be able to trust you with my
balance. The reason why i am doing this is that it would take a check
sent from over here in HOLLAND 21days to clearover there,whereas a check
sent from the US would clear tops within 48hrs. So i would like you to
deduct the western union charges from my balance.So if my terms are
acceptableto you,i would like you to give me your fullname,address and
phone number so that i can instruct my client to make out the check to
you.  Pls get back to me as soon as you get this mail so that we can
round things up in a timely fashion..i willbe trusting in this business


 Good day
 i am an auto dealer based in TAIWAN,i am interested in buying your
 ( 1989 Jetta GL 4 door  )I will like to know if you would accept
 acertified cashier check for the payment of the,i also need to
 know the price and your full name and address including your
 phone is also needed in which payment will be sent to . i have a
 shipping company who takes cares of my shippment .So don't bother
 about the shippment.I will also like to know if is still in good
 condition and
 shape.urgent response is needed for procedure of payment of the (
 1989 Jetta GL 4 door )


Thanks for your mail,Since the cost of your bike is $800 i just contacted
my client about the cost of your bike and it present condition and he said
there is no problem about that.So my client said he will be issuing you a
Certified Check of $4000 while you wire 3000 to me through Western Union
Money Trasfer and you deduct the cost of your bike $800 and keep the
remaining $200 which my client said you should take for the terms of
Transaction and Agreement between you and my client.So i will like you to
send me your full contact information to where my client will be sending you
 the Certified Check like this:
 full address.............
 cell/office/home phone number.......................
 I will look forward to the requested information as soon as  possible so
that the check can be sent out to you immediately  And do get back to me
with the Pics of the bike so tha! t my client will  be Able to see What he
is paying off.Get back to me immediately. Looking torwards your
Best Regards.


Good day
i am an auto dealer based in TAIWAN,i am interested in buying your
( Comic book collection - 500 comics  )I will like to know if you
would accept acertified cashier check for the payment of the,i also
need to knowthe price and your full name and address including your phone
is alsoneeded in which payment will be sent to . i have a shipping
company who takes cares of my shippment .So don't bother about the
shippment.I will also like to know if is still in good condition
and shape.urgent response is needed for procedure of payment of the (
Comic book collection - 500 comics )