I just posted my old drill press on craigslist, because I got a better one.
Immediately, I got two messages that were nearly exactly the same: “Is the item still for sale?” – that’s a warning, right there. Someone who wants a drill press might take the time to refer to it as “the drill press” instead of “the item” (which the scammer can just cut&paste in).
I replied, “yes, it is.”
Immediately, I got another message: “in order to make sure u are not a scammer, I will send you a code; you can tell me the code and I’ll know you are for real.” Then, I got a code from google voice services, along with a message saying “This is your authentication code, do not share it with anybody else.”
Well, that sounds suspicious. “Do not share it with anybody else” is a clue from Google. So I google’d “scam authentication code do not share it” and it came back with a full description of the scam. [google]
The trick is that the scammer is trying to sign up a google voice ID with your cellphone number, so that they can make google voice calls or send texts using your number.
I replied with the link to the google explanation, called them “asshole” and deleted the messages.
A general rule is: never disclose anything that has anything to do with an authentication credential. It’s almost always a trick.
Back in the early days of the commercial internet, I remember when people like Eric Raymond were going around talking about how the internet was going to change everything, and make everything better. In fact, humans just dragged all their usual baggage: scammers, nationalists, intelligence operatives, and make-a-buck-quick operations into the new domain. I believe it was Raymond who called the internet “The New Library of Alexandria” – and, I liked the similie, at the time. Until its new denizens began squatting and taking a shit here and there, and making bonfires out of the books, skinning the unfortunate Hypatia, generally dragging everything down to the lowest common denominator. And, then, the marketing people showed up and spray painted “bullshit” on every surface, in blink-tag neon green paint. Humans are like some weird, stupid, animals that you can lead to water when they’re thirsty and the first thing they’ll do is shit where someone else is drinking.