Craigslist is a great website for many reasons. It allows communities to come together and post listings for many different needs. While in the majority of cases this can be a pleasant experience, there are many times when people get scammed on this website. No one wants to be a victim of Craigslist scams and this is why it is helpful to understand the common ways people are the subject of scams on this site.
Why is This Such an Issue?
Craigslist is an organization that is community-based and designed to allow people to interact with each other. It is not regularly policed, though people can report suspicious activity. When a report is made, the post will be taken down. However, many scammers will simply continue to post until their accounts are deleted and will then use another account.
There is no verification process with the listings on this site which is part of the problem. In all honesty, this is what helps keep the site free or low cost, yet it is also what makes it a great target for potential scammers. This is why the listing categories with the highest rates of scams tend to require the poster to pay for the posting. In some areas, you may have to pay as much as $25 to post a job in certain categories.
The anonymity of Craigslist also makes it hard for local police departments to catch criminals in the act. On top of this, there is no way to stop people from posting to the jobs section that is not local. In many cases, there are people who create an account in another state or even country and then can post all over looking for people to scam.
What is Craigslist Doing About the Scams
There are so many different local sites that it is hard to do much more than handle reported cases. They do however seek to inform the public about how to spot Craigslist scams. One of the biggest ways they mention is the people you communicate with are not local. Along with this, if they try to get money from you upfront, via Western Union, PayPal, wire transfer or escrow then this is a sign of a scam. Also, never buy anything without looking at it first. They try to keep this information on their website so that people can not only see these tips but examples of scams on the site as well.
Craigslist Jobs Scams
One of the most popular scams on Craigslist is in the jobs section. There are often posts which will have a generic job that generally does not require any experience. Generally, one of two things happen. Once the person is told they will get a job if they pay for training which is never followed through on once the money is received.
The other way these job scams on Craigslist can play out is with a person being told they have a job and in some cases even doing work. Then they receive a large fraudulent check in the mail. They are told to cash the check and keep a certain percentage and send the rest to them.
There are several things you will want to look at to keep from being the victim of a job scam. This includes:
- Be wary of vague listings
- Search the wording in the listing on Google to see if there are any issue
- Do a search of the company before applying
- Look for red flag phrases such as Telecommuting OK, Immediate Start and No Experience Needed. While there are legitimate jobs with these phrases, when other red flags go off, it can be a sign of a scam.
- When in doubt, call the company in question to ensure they actually have a job posting
- Be cautious of out of area phone numbers or job postings without any phone number
- The salary listed for the job seems too good for the work or there are great benefits and vacations that are not industry standard
- Never give money to someone who is looking to hire and be wary of sharing personal information.
- The response to your application or resume is met with a link to a website where you need to sign up
Craigslist Rental Scams
Another area that is common with scams is an apartment and home rentals. The way this works is the scammer will post a home that is already for rent with another listing company or maybe even for sale. They will use this information and the pictures to make the place seem amazing. Usually, these are listed at prices that are well below the market average to entice people to contact them about the home.
When you email they will usually give you stories about how they work out of town and need to rent their home. They want you to send the money for the first month, last month and deposit to them right away and then they will mail you the keys to the home.
A quick way to find out if the housing listing is fraudulent is to search the address or the listing itself. If it is, you will find it listed with another company. You will find the same information and pictures as well as a significantly higher rental amount. If you want to be sure that this is a scam, you can contact the listing agent for the listing on the other website.
Craigslist PayPal Scam
PayPal is an excellent site for managing your money when dealing with an online order. There are many self-employed individuals that get paid this way. However, there are several ways that scammers are using PayPal to scam unsuspecting users.
In many cases, the scammer will send an email saying they want to buy something. They ask for the person’s PayPal email address to send them money. Then they send a fake email that looks like it is from PayPal saying that the money has been sent and will be accessible once a tracking number is put in. This causes people to go out and ship the item to the scammer when the money has not been sent. It is important to note that PayPal will never require you to put in a tracking number.
Another common way that PayPal is used to scam people is by the buyer sending a fake email to the seller saying that the funds have been sent and they need to sign in. This is an old trick where the page it routes to looks like PayPal and when the person inputs their username and password into this fake site, the scammer now has their information and can take money out of their account.
In some cases, the scammer may actually pay you, but they pay with a hacked account. Once the owner of the hacked account finds out and reports it, PayPal will deduct this money from your account and you will then be out the money and the merchandise.
Some scammers will use their own PayPal account to pay you for an item. However, they will ask that you ship an item to a different address. Once you do this, they file a claim with PayPal. Since the item is only protected when sent to the address associated with the account, you are out the money and merchandise.
The oldest way people can scam you with PayPal on Craigslist is by sending you significantly more than the merchandise is worth. Often they will tell you to keep a little extra for your effort and then mail the remaining funds to them with the merchandise. This way you are committing the crime and they are reaping the rewards.
You can never be too safe when dealing with your personal and financial information. This is why you should make sure you pay close attention to any situation. You should consider only selling your items for cash and in person. If you do use PayPal for the transaction and get a suspicious looking email, then you should forward it to PayPal so they can sort it out.
Craigslist Car Scams
You can buy or sell your car on craigslist with ease. Sellers like that they can post their car for free and buyers like the ease of use. However, scammers are not afraid to use car buying to con people out of money. There are a few ways this can happen that you should know about.
The most common way people are scammed when buying a car on the site is done by out of area sellers that want to ship a vehicle. In these cases, they have pictures of a vehicle with a lower than normal price. They have a story about how they had to move or lost their job and will ship the car to you. You send them money and then never hear from them again.
The best way to avoid Craigslist scams with a car sale is to deal only with local car sales. You want to be able to see the vehicle in person. Not only to make sure that it exists but also to ensure that the listing was accurate. There is no sense in paying several thousands of dollars for a car that will not even run. It is never a good idea to buy a car that has to be shipped from another state or country without getting to see it first.
Keep in mind that if the price of a vehicle seems to be too good to be true, chances are that it is. If you have been looking and looking for a decent car that fits into your budget and you see one that is much nicer that happens to fall into this, then your first reaction is to rush out and buy it. While it may be a legitimate listing, make sure you do your research to ensure that it is not a scam before you put down any money.
You should also look up the images on the listing to make sure they were not just pulled off the internet. This can be easy to spot when you are dealing with stock photos of a vehicle. People can also use pictures from Google. You can take the link address of a picture and input it into Google images and then search for the same image online. If you find other results with information that does not match, then you know you are dealing with a scam.
You should never complete a transaction for a vehicle without seeing the title. Make sure that it is not only in the seller’s possession but signed. If not, the vehicle legally does not belong to you and can be reported stolen. If they say they do not have the title, then you can make arrangements to meet them at the DMV to complete the transaction once they have purchased the title for the vehicle.
Selling Items on Craigslist
Just because there are scams out there does not mean that this is not a great way to sell your items. Many people successfully sell furniture, athletic equipment, electronics and more on the site every day. However, there are a few safeguards you will want to use to ensure that you get the results you are looking for.
- Meet with the person. This helps to ensure that they are real and local.
- Do not meet up with people for a transaction alone. Take someone with you
- Only accept cash. This is the only way to ensure the money cannot be taken from you later on or that it even exists.
- Use a generic Craigslist email to ensure scammers do not end up with your email which can be used for phishing scams.
- Be careful about using your phone number for a listing. In some cases, it is needed but not all.
- Remove geotags from pictures before posting them as this will allow scammers to see your location.