We Were Almost Scammed!

UPDATE (8/13/12): Paul Haydock, CEO of myParcelDelivery, has contacted us and assured us that his company is a legitimate and well-known parcel delivery site in the UK. I do not doubt him, but we are choosing to keep this post live because a Google search was the only reason we knew our situation was a scam.

Here's an embarrassing story that we hope you can learn from...a story we hate to write because it still makes us sick to our stomachs.

Craigslist scam My parcel delivery

About a month ago we started looking for a new-to-us MacBook. The one we have is about five years old, and, while it's served us well, it's going downhill fast.

Hating to pay full price for a MacBook, we searched Craigslist, hoping to score a deal on slightly used machine. There were lots available, but many seemed overpriced and older than we would have liked.

There was one that stuck out to us, however. It was $600 and nearly brand new. It also had a few upgrades. The lady claimed to have recently gotten it for her birthday, but didn't need it.

Kelsey emailed her for more details, which all seemed to check out, except for one: She had recently moved to Canada from Des Moines.

We thought that was strange, because the beauty of Craigslist is to sell items locally and not pay for shipping. Also, most buyers get to try out the product before buying.

Still, we pursued the deal because it was, well, just that: a great deal. She (under the name of "Emily Preston") was very convincing and said that, if we wanted to do the deal, she had found a third-party service called My Parcel Delivery that appeared to have been created for Internet transactions such as this. She even offered to pay for the shipping.

"Emily" would deliver the MacBook to My Parcel Delivery, who would first verify that it was what she said it was and was, in fact, working. The company would then collect our money, deliver the computer to us, and then only after we were satisfied, deliver the funds to the seller.

A guarantee to get our money back if we changed our minds? Let's do it.

"Emily" sent us a legit-looking PDF that appeared to be from My Parcel Delivery. It was branded and had our information filled in. The computer that My Parcel Delivery had received from "Emily" met the specs she had outlined for us beforehand.

Everything seemed to check out.

All we had to do was send the money via Western Union to our My Parcel Delivery agent, "Jacob Marshall."

Thank God that Kelsey has good intuition.

She had already taken the cash out of the bank and went to the grocery store to fill out the Western Union paperwork when she read a disclaimer about not ever sending money via Western Union to someone you don't know.

She could have easily ignored this (again, the My Parcel Delivery service seemed to be a legit business--and it may actually be, I don't know), but she stopped everything and walked away.

A quick Google search for "My Parcel Delivery scams" made our hearts sink to our stomachs:

my parcel delivery scam. Craigslist

It turns out "Emily" has posted listings in numerous locations and once she receives the funds, email communication stops and the items are never sent.

We obviously didn't even want to write this blog post. We feel so stupid for almost having gone through with this! But, we decided that this needs to be shared, to make everyone aware of this new scam.

In hindsight, we should have sniffed out this scam right away, but we were so elated that we were going to be getting such a good deal that we kept pursuing.

Here are the lessons we learned:

  • Before you use any service recommended by someone you don't know, Google it first to see if there are scams surrounding it.
  • Western Union is to be used to send money to friends and family that you know personally.
  • When dealing with Craigslist, pay special attention to their warnings, such as only dealing locally with folks you can meet in person and never wiring funds via Western Union or any other wire service. The list goes on: Craigslist scams. Disclaimer
  • Ask questions, as many as possible, to sniff out fraud. We asked a lot of questions, but could have done better. We were too worried about offending the seller, as many of our questions seemed to be met with annoyance. Kelsey even searched for "Emily Preston" on Facebook, thinking that if she was, in fact, from Des Moines, that we might have some mutual friends.
  • If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Simply avoid these listings. The computer we found listed for $600 would have cost $2,400 retail.

So, there is our embarrassing story. We share it to ensure that this doesn't happen to anyone else. Scammers suck! 

We ended up buying a refurbished MacBook Pro from the Apple online store. We were able to save a few hundred dollars and they have a one-year limited warranty that comes with it--a happy medium from the would-be-scam and buying brand new.

Tell your friends! Have you ever come close to being, or actually been, scammed on the Internet?