If you use Craigslist regularly, you’ve probably been the target of a scam. From Nigerian princes to suspect personal checks, scammers see this e-commerce community as a chance to take advantage of users’ trust. Craigslist may never rid itself of fraudulent activity. Here are some of the most common Craigslist scams plaguing this convenient online-classifieds platform.
The big game or hottest concert is days away, and you just found a too-good-be-true deal on tickets from someone who had an unexpected emergency. Not only are you going to have the night of your life, you’re also helping out an unlucky fan. Everybody wins — until you lose. This scenario isn’t unfathomable, but more often than not, if a deal seems too good to be true, it is. Scammers are adept at forging tickets and selling canceled tickets, pawning them off at high rates.
There’s no easy answer to verifying tickets. Consider not paying the seller until your ticket is accepted at the gate, but given that scalping is illegal in many states, you may not want to risk a potential run-in with the law. For a discount on tickets, consider Stubhub, or other distributors that sell guaranteed tickets at a reduced cost. You may not find that screaming deal, but at least you’ll be screaming your head off for the night.
You’re not foolish. You probably wouldn’t accept a personal check for any item of significant value, opting instead for guaranteed funds such as a cashier’s check or money order. Next thing you know, that “guaranteed” money turns out to be forged and now you have to leave voicemails and emails with the culprit. Here, the qualifier is misleading. On Craigslist, the only guaranteed money is cold, hard cash.
When selling an item of value, typically a car, the dealer sets up an escrow account and tells the buyer to deposit funds with a reliable bank. The account might be valid, but the email that reroutes the buyer isn’t. Instead of sending you to the legitimate account, scammers set up dummy accounts with no intention of returning the money or the car.
Beware of these alleged escrow accounts. Verify the routing email with the bank’s website URL. If you see any discrepancies, hold off depositing the money until you can verify the account. On the issue of financial security, Craigslist isn’t the only portal in which scammers exploit unsuspecting victims.
An eager-seller offers a product at a great deal, but because he or she is out-of-town, requires that the buyer wire the money. Once the buyer complies, he or she shows up to pick up the vehicle and it’s nowhere to be found. The rule here is simple: Don’t purchase goods from foreign sellers on Craigslist. Some honest foreigners may be out of luck, but it’s not worth the risk.
A landlord lists an excellent property at an unbeatable price, and an advantageous-seller celebrates when their security deposit is accepted. The problem is 20 other security deposits were accepted too, so you’re new home just became a frat-boy romp house. Verify landlords before you write a check. If you can’t find a wealth of positive history, protect yourself and move on to the next home.