More Craigslist Scams
Craigslist Apartment Rental Scams
Craigslist Car Scams
Craigslist Escrow Service Scams
Craigslist Ticket Scams
Counterfeit Money Orders
How to Avoid PayPal Scams
Craigslist is a great service but if you deal with people you aren’t meeting face to face you risk getting scammed.
Craigslist is a great resource for selling things, finding apartments, locating services and meeting people. Most of the time transactions go smoothly and both seller and buyer are satisfied with the Craigslist experience.
Danger awaits the unwary buyer or seller on Craigslist. Most these scams follow the same pattern you see on eBay and other online auction sites. Try posting that you have a piece of jewelry or some other easily-mailed valuable item for sale and the first response you get will probably be someone trying scam you.
Craigslist Nigerian Scams and More
Emails from Nigeria offering you more than your selling price if you accept their check or money order are typical. The fact that this is a scam may seem obvious but there are lots of variations on this theme that fool people every day. Don’t add your name to the growing list of Craigslist fraud victims. Be smart, be aware and if in doubt ask your friends or someone with internet savvy what they think if things sound fishy.
This page details a few common Craigslist scams but no list is ever complete because new versions of old scams appear all the time. Once you know the common themes these criminals use you can usually spot them a mile away and they become little more than a subject of amusement.
To help keep yourself safe from scams, Craigslist advises that any business dealings be done with people in your own local area. Don’t do business with folks who live far away. As with any online financial transactions, prudence and common sense are paramount. I once received an offer for a purchase where the person said they lived in California but requested that I email the item to somewhere in Oregon. Now what’s wrong with this picture?
Beware of anyone offering more than what you asked for. This is too weird. Who would do that? Especially since Craigslist is known as the place to go for good deals. Other clues include poor grammar and misspelled words. In the offer I mentioned earlier both Oregon and California were misspelled and English was obviously not their native language. That doesn’t necessarily mean the inquiry is coming from abroad but it’s certainly a red flag.
Craigslist provides the following advice on avoiding scams to anyone using their service:
- Trust your instincts
- Deal only with local buyers and sellers
- NEVER wire funds to a distant buyer, via Western Union or any other carrier
- Be wary if the other party wants to use an
escrow service such as BidPay, Squaretrade, or even PayPal
- NEVER give out personal financial information (eBay or PayPal info, checking account number, SSN, etc.)
- always remember the most important rule — BUYER BEWARE
This advice isn’t specific to Craigslist. It’s just all-around good advice. Below are the top three Craigslist scams.
- The buyer or seller doesn’t live near you.
- The buyer or seller wants to pay by cashier’s check, US Postal Service money order, Western Union, or escrow service (BidPay, Squaretrade, etc.).
- The buyer or seller won’t agree to meet with you in person.
If you happen to see something on Craigslist that looks scammy, you should send an email to “firstname.lastname@example.org” and give them as much detail as you can about the listing. Make sure you include URL (or 8 digit post ID number) in your email. If you’re selling something and you think a con artist has expressed interest, forward it to “email@example.com”
Make sure you are really on Craigslist!
There some sites out there that attempt to capitalize on Craigslist’s success. Some have similar domain names and the owner’s hope that you will make mistake while typing in the URL and end up on their site instead of the one you intended. Sometimes you will find nothing more than advertising but a couple of these imposters are phishing scams with layouts that duplicate the real Craigslist to fool you. The real web address for Craigslist is www.craigslist.org although the www in the URL can usually be replaced with the name of the city you whose listings you wish to explore (chicago.craigslist.org, newyork.craigslist.org, or losangeles.craigslist.org). If you go to the main address I just listed you will be able to find the local listings you’re interested. Just make sure that you haven’t ended up at www.craigslist.com or www.craiglist.org or some other common misspelling of the Craigslist domain. You’d be surprised at how many people type in the wrong address and end up somewhere they didn’t mean to. People often fail to realize their mistake so pay attention to any clues telling you that something is “phishy” about the site. If there’s any doubt, go back and re-type the URL or do a search for “Craigslist” to be sure.
Craigslist’s New York apartment classifieds are a con artist favorite
Fraud in New York City’s Craigslist classifieds has become so pervasive that Craigslist has considered charging a fee for its ads. Their hope is that by putting a charge in place, they will discourage phony listings. Most of these fraudulent postings are common bait and switch schemes. However, some of the cases reported involved more elaborate schemes run by professional criminals. These scam artists have managed to bilk apartment seekers for thousands of dollars. Everyone knows how competitive the New York apartment market is, with too many people looking for far too few apartments. Some bold con artists have capitalized on this situation and used it to their advantage.