Types of Craigslist Scam

Craigslist Check Scam

Fake or counterfeit checks and fake money orders are one of the most common tricks used by scammers. If you’re selling something on Craigslist, you better watch out for scammers posing as buyers or sellers sending you fake checks.

Craigslist scam

A typical Craigslist check scam involve one or several followings

  • Inquiry from someone far away, often overseas in a different country
  • Western Union, Money Gram, Money Order, Cashier’s check, escrow and fake checks

How it work

  1. The victim posts an ad on Craigslist to sell his/her items, which can be expensive wine, rental property, computers, electronics, boats, cars, vacations, even pets, etc.
  2. The scammer contact the victim about the item
  3. The scammer send a fake cashier’s check to the unknowing victim
  4. The fake cashier’s check usually far exceeds the asking price
  5. The scammer tells the victim that the cashier’s check was sent by mistake/error
  6. The scammer requests the victim to send or wire the money covering the difference between the bogus check amount and the price of the listed item
  7. Cashier’s check could take several days or weeks for it to clear and if the victim sends any money back to the scammer before they realize it’s a fake check, that’s the money the victim will never see again
  8. The victim is held responsible for any fees when the check fails to clear and in some cases criminal persecution

How to avoid check scams and what to watch out for

  • Money order or check exceeds the asking price
  • Check receivers are asked to send or wire back the money covering the difference between the bogus check amount and the price of the listed item
  • Often the buyer/seller is from another country or overseas
  • Look for grammar and other spelling mistakes, poor punctuation and other made-up words
  • Poor use of the English language is a sign that the person may live in Nigeria or other non-English countries
  • Never give out personal information and financial information (eBay or PayPal info, checking account number, SSN, etc.)
  • Deal with local buyers and sellers
  • Trust your instincts

More articles on Craigslist check scams here.

Craigslist Housing, Apartment, Condo Rental Scams

There are reports that scammers are pretending to be property owners and posting fake properties on Craigslist. The victim seeking rental properties find the ad and contact the scammer. The scammer asks for a deposit and some other personal information through email.

Besides from taking the deposit money, the scammers have the victim’s personal information and could also use that information to steal more money. For example, if victims hand over their bank information, scammers are able to transfer money from that account into theirs. If victims hand over their driver’s license or social security information, scammers can open credit accounts under the victim’s name and make purchases. The same happens with credit card information.

Craigslist rental scams

A typical Craigslist housing, apartment and condo scam involve one or several followings

  • Inquiry from someone far away, often overseas in a different country
  • Western Union, Money Gram, Money Order, Cashier’s check, escrow and fake check
  • Property owner refuses or cannot make face-to-face transaction
  • Rental cost is much lower than the current market value
  • Asking for deposit and other personal information such as driver’s license, credit card, or social insurance information

How it work

  1. The victim answers an ad on Craigslist and contacts the “property owner”
  2. The “property owner” requests a deposit and other personal information
  3. The keys to the rented home or apartment would be sent through mail
  4. The “property owner” refuses or make ups reasons for face-to-face transactions
  5. If the victim sends money for the deposit without physically verifying the property, that money is gone forever

How to avoid rental scams and what to watch out for

  • Make sure you physically verify the offer by going to the apartment, condo, or home – do not just rely on the pictures
  • Never give out personal information and financial information (eBay or PayPal info, checking account number, SSN, etc.)
  • Never deposit any money without confirming ownership of the property and reading the leasing agreement
  • Deal with local buyers and sellers
  • Trust your instincts

More articles on Craigslist rental scams here.

Craigslist Car Scam

Scammers use Craigslist to trick potential car buyers or sellers out of thousands of dollars. If you are looking to buy a car on Craigslist, watch out for cars that are priced much below their market value. If you’re selling your car, make sure you meet face-to-face with the buyer and either get cash or a certified money order.

Craigslist car scam

A typical Craigslist auto scam involves one or several followings

  • Listed car prices are much lower than their market price
  • Western Union, Money Gram, Money Order, Cashier’s check, escrow and a fake check
  • Scammers offer to ship the car
  • Fake Buyer Protection Program from eBay, PayPal or Craigslist (Craigslist doesn’t have a protection program)
  • Involve used cars or rare “classic” cars

How it work

  1. The scammer posts a car ad on Craigslist
  2. The victim contacts the scammer about the vehicle
  3. The scammer sends the victim a link to a fake “Buyer Protection Program” (from eBay, PayPal, Craigslist etc.) to claim the victim’s purchase is protected
  4. The victim wired the money to the scammer and the car never came in
  5. The victim tries to contact the scammer, but the phone number will be disconnected or emails won’t be replied to.

How to avoid car scams and what to watch out for

  • The price of the car is unusually lower than the current market price
  • Never give out personal information and financial information (eBay or PayPal info, checking account number, SSN, etc.)
  • Fake eBay, PayPal, and Craigslist Buyer Protection Plan
  • Deal with local buyers and sellers
  • Trust your instincts

More articles about Craigslist auto scams here.

Craigslist Job/Employment Scam

There are two common tactics used to scam potential job seekers on Craigslist. The first tactic is to ask for up-front fees or training fees and to solicit personal information for direct deposit or background check procedures. The second tactic involves posting high paying salaries to lure job seekers. Getting $1000 per week as a “sales man” or to “work from home” with no real experience sounds good, if only they were true.

Craigslist Job Scam

How it work

  1. The scammer posts a job ad on Craigslist
  2. The job offers high income, with no or little experience and education
  3. The scammer asking for fees, or hiring the victim without an interview are all red flags and need to be avoided

Another method

  1. The victim answers a job ad on Craigslist
  2. The victim receive an email stating all applicants require direct deposit with links to a webpage
  3. The victim fills out their bank information on that webpage, which reveals their personal banking information
  4. The scammer takes that banking information and transfers money from the victim’s bank account into theirs

How to avoid job and employment scams and what to watch out for

  • Legitimate job offers will not ask you to pay any fees for background checks or credit reports or ask you to wire any money
  • You should never provide any financial or banking information online until they officially hire you

Craigslist Pets Scam

Yes, there are reports and complaints regarding pets scams on Craigslist.

Craigslist Pet Scam

How it work

  1. The victim posts an ad on Craigslist offering free adoption
  2. The scammer contacts the victim, comes over to have a look at the victim’s pet
  3. The victim agrees to have the scammer take their cat/dog along with all the paper work
  4. The scammer takes the pet free of charge and then lists the pet back online, or posts the pet back on Craigslist with a fee

Another pet scams involve imported pets

  1. Victims are asked to wire or send money overseas to adopt a pet
  2. The scam artist tells the victim the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) quarantine station is holding the victim’s pet for numerous conditions and the victim needs to send payment in order to have the CDC release the pet

How to avoid pet scams and what to watch out for

  • A common pet scam usually involves someone overseas offering exotic animals for adoption
  • Be careful with offers from overseas and avoid any situations to send money before shipment
  • Never give out personal information and financial information (eBay or PayPal info, checking account number, SSN, etc.)
  • Some animals are illegal to ship from other countries
  • Deal with local buyers and sellers
  • Trust your instincts

Free stuff on Craigslist

There are thousands of legitimate free stuff being given away on craigslist. However, there are some instances where somebody posts an ad under the “Free section” claiming all the belongings are free.

One instance was an angry daughter of an evicted tenant trying to get back with the landlord by posting an ad on Craigslist claiming everything in her landlord’s property was free. People who saw the ad rushed to the address and grabbed what they could. However, the people who were caught taking items were charged for burglary and other malicious mischief.

So don’t believe everything on Craigslist and don’t get anyone mad who happens to know your address.

More articles about free stuff on Craigslist here.

Did you fall for or encounter one of these scams? Do you know other types of scams on Craigslist? Tell us what happened by posting your comments below.

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5 thoughts on “Types of Craigslist Scam

  1. I got this response to an item I'm selling on Craigslist. The first email said, is the item still available? When I replied that it was, I got this email in response (cut and paste, so the misspellings are theirs): .,//

  2. The check scam is still happening today. I was selling my 17" LCD TV today and someone emailed me about an hour after I posted on Craigslist. Almost instantly after I posted I got the email from someone asking for my address to have someone to pick up the TV and he'll hand over a check to me.

    I ask him I only accept cash and since I only selling my TV for $80 dollars there shouldn't be any problem but he said check only. How stupid was that? A check is only worth the paper it is written in until it clears at the bank and that takes upto 7 days.

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