Craigslist is a very popular classified advertisements website and it has had problems with scammers in the past.
Craigslist publish the following guidance on how to avoid scams.
- Deal locally, face-to-face —follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts.
- Do not extend payment to anyone you have not met in person.
- Beware offers involving shipping – deal with locals you can meet in person.
- Never wire funds (e.g. by Western Union) – anyone who asks you to do this is a scammer.
- Don’t accept cashier/certified cheques or money orders – banks cash fakes, then hold you responsible.
- Transactions are between users only, no third party provides a “guarantee”.
- Never give out financial info (bank account, social security, paypal account, etc).
- Do not rent or purchase sight-unseen—that amazing “deal” may not exist.
- Refuse background/credit checks until you have met landlord/employer in person.
How to Recognise Scams
Most scam attempts involve one or more of the following:
- Email or text from someone that is not local to your area.
- Vague initial inquiry, e.g. asking about “the item.” Poor grammar/spelling.
- Western Union, Money Gram, cashier check, money order, paypal, shipping, escrow service, or a “guarantee.”
- Inability or refusal to meet face-to-face to complete the transaction.
Examples of Scams
- Someone claims your transaction is guaranteed, that a buyer/seller is officially certified, OR that a third party of any kind will handle or provide protection for a payment:
These claims are fraudulent, as transactions are between users only.
The scammer will often send an official looking (but fake) email that appears to come from Craigslist or another third party, offering a guarantee, certifying a seller, or pretending to handle payments.
- Distant person offers a genuine-looking (but fake) cashier’s cheque.
You receive an email or text (examples below) offering to buy your item, pay for your services in advance, or rent your apartment, sight unseen and without meeting you in person.
A cashier’s cheque is offered for your sale item as a deposit for an apartment or for your services. The value of the cashier’s cheque often far exceeds your item—scammer offers to “trust” you, and asks you to wire the balance via a money transfer service.
Banks will cash fake cheques and then hold you responsible when the cheque fails to clear, sometimes including criminal prosecution.
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