This article presents the most common Craigslist Scams and the most effective ways of avoiding being the victim of one
The story of the iconic Craigslist starts on March 1, 1996. On that date, Craig Newman, a recently fired computer engineer with a deep belief of the potential that the internet could have in changing people’s lives, sent an email to a group of friends. According to the interesting recount by Forbes of those first months, Craig used the new extra time to launch a mailing list with San Francisco’s most attractive events (art and technology). Although it started as a non-profit oriented service, Craigslist became widely popular in the United States and abroad. In 2018, it had billions of page views per month and their revenue was estimated to surpass one billion dollars. The platform has kept a very simple design that has barely changed in all these years and they choose to charge a small fee to publish the ads instead of relying on advertisement ads or any other financing source.
Although it offers a very useful service most of the time, due to its high audience, it has also come to be a place where fraudsters seek new victims. This is why it is important to keep vigilant about the transactions that you choose to make. This article presents the most common Craigslist Scams and the most effective ways of avoiding being the victim of one.
What are the most common Craigslist Scams?
The very first step towards protecting yourself and your family from Craigslist scams is informing yourself about the most common ways that fraudsters use to take advantage of people. This will allow you to be cautious and stay alert when anything seems to be fishy. Here a useful list of the most common scams:
- Anyone offering a product or service that sounds too good to be true. This will usually be an expensive product like cars, laptops, bikes, TVs, smartphones, etc. The sellers involved in this type of ads usually require a payment in the form of Money Gram or Western Union transfer (where it is impossible to track the people and make them accountable). Under the pressure that the article is very rare and at a very good price, people rush into accepting because they fear to let this offer go.
- A person that for some reason that asks you to send money and they will send you a check or money order. This type of posts or requests from people is most certainly fake. The checks you will get will be false or you will not be able to cash them. Moreover, you will add bank fees to your loss since banks usually hold you responsible for checks that fail.
- Fake jobs. A common way of tricking people is posting job ads and then asking them to purchase any product, pay rent, or make a transfer that will later be reimbursed with their salary. This type of scams takes advantage of people in needy situations that, due to the pressure of getting jobs, are willing to do things that sound weird.
- Any post assuring that there is a “Craigslist guarantee” will most certainly be a fraud. This site is very emphatic in assuring that they cannot and will not check the truth of the offers that are posted on their site.
In the official Craigslist site, you can find a list of agencies (depending on your location) you can contact in case you have been affected by a scam.
Some safety tips to avoid the most common Craigslist scams
- Spot any suspicious sales posts.
When you are interested in a product, prioritize any posts with images. However, you should be critical with the images that the seller has posted since fraudsters often use images they download from the internet. You can use the Google search function to check if the image associated with the product was downloaded from another site. If you are unsure about the quality of the product, ask the seller to make more pictures or even a video. Already in their reaction, you will be able to notice if it is a serious offer. Any serious seller will understand that there are risks associated with buying on the internet and will be interested in reassuring you.
Be suspicious of prices that are too low and double-check all the information that is included in the description of the service or product. Such a thing as an opportunity that is too good to be true is sadly, usually a scam.
- Do a background check of the person involved.
Whenever the service you are going to get is one that involves constant contact with your family or the object in question means a big amount of money, doing a background check is an excellent option to go on the safe side. Nuwber scans through all publicly available sources (like social networks, phone directories, and the internet as wells as government public records, business records, etc.) to produce a report that can be very useful in these cases. The background check will help you check whether the person you are dealing with is honest concerning their identity, criminal record, housing situation, marriage status, and employment situation.
- Meet the person involved.
Someone that has something to hide will be very reticent about meeting you. You must choose a safe public place. In particular, it is very common for community police stations to offer special places in their parking lots as meet up spots for safer transactions. The big advantage is that by meeting there you know in advance that you will be recorded in video, adding safety to the situation. Meet up also offers a list of safe spaces groups in different regions that you can join.
- Be careful about the information that you share with people.
Be very careful about people wanting sensitive information in advance. Never agree on giving information about your address, bank accounts, passwords, or social security number. This also applies to less evident sharing of information. For example, be careful to deactivate any geotagging that could help other people figure out your location or your address.