Tag: craigslist

The Biggest Car Scams

There are numerous scams involving buying and selling vehicles and the most common online are:-

Bait and Switch – An advertiser promotes one vehicle but when you go to see it – there is a problem. That vehicle is not available for some reason but the dealer has lots of other vehicles to show you. This is called bait and switch and you should walk away as dealers who practice this are likely to only provide bad deals.

Attrition – the dealer or seller will delay and delay and delay in the hope of wearing you down until you agree to a poor deal for any vehicle.

Leasing Deals – More people than ever are switching to lease deals as they can provide peace of mind and can be financially advantageous. However, you must read all of the details very carefully and not end up trapped in a long term deal that you cannot break. Also, many adverts for lease deals appear very cheap but  they are for  unreasonably small mileage and that is kept hidden from you till you are ready to sign.

Second Hand Cars – These can be great deals but unless you know about cars you may want to take out an AA inspection or equivalent by an expert to show exactly what you’re buying.

Craigslist – A very popular place for buying and selling cars. Fake postings are very common. Watch for unrealistically low prices and take those as a warning.  Buyers with stolen cheques or long stories of why they cannot view the car in person but can you ship it to them are commonplace. Anything out of the ordinary in dealings on Craigslist should make you think carefully before proceeding. Craigslist does have pages of warnings on its website if you want further details about the typical scams to watch out for.

Scammers on Craigslist also use the over payment scam whereby they send you a cheque for a much higher price than you asked then contact you with an emergency request that they made a mistake on the payment and can you return the over payment. This is a bad idea as given time, the scammers cheque would bounce leaving you out of pocket from the cheque plus the amount you repaid to the scammer.

Warning Signs

  • Cars are priced far below current market value.
  • The seller claims to be in the military and is stationed overseas.
  • The posting does not include a phone number.
  • The seller demands that you use an online escrow service of their choice (these are always meaningless).
  • Payment must be wired to or from another country. Western Union is often requested.
  • The buyer or seller is very anxious to conclude the transaction.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email

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Craigslist Scams

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:

  1. Email or text from someone that is not local to your area.
  2. Vague initial inquiry, e.g. asking about “the item.” Poor grammar/spelling.
  3. Western Union, Money Gram, cashier check, money order, paypal, shipping, escrow service, or a “guarantee.”
  4. Inability or refusal to meet face-to-face to complete the transaction.

Examples of Scams

  1. 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.

  1. 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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