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How to Recognize a Scam on Craigslist

Updated on July 3, 2016

Even savvy consumers can be easy prey for thieves on Craigslist. Are you tired of these dishonest people? Watch for some big red flags.

Craigslist scams come in all shapes and sizes. There are employment scams, housing scams and scams involving the buying and selling of attractive items. Craigslist crooks don't have anything to sell and those who are interested in buying a product will pay with nothing but a bad check.

Craigslist is normally a great website to use when looking for deals, but users should proceed with caution when individuals say they can't or won't meet face to face. This is a sign that something isn't quite right. Learn to recognize the signs of fraud on Craigslist and it will be possible to avoid getting taken by these con artists.

Job Scams

If there's one thing that people everywhere will always be looking for, it's employment. When the economy tanks and jobs become scarce people turn to self-employment opportunities and may look on Craigslist for work out of the home types of deals. Craigslist scammers are fully prepared to take advantage of this fact. They will be waiting for job seekers who are gullible, desperate, or a combination of both. Here are some ways to identify jobs that probably aren't legitimate:

  • The specifics about the position are vague.
  • Jobs that require no experience but offer unrealistic wages.
  • Companies that charge a fee for work at home directories.
  • Jobs that offer the chance to build wealth almost effortlessly.
  • Recruiting scams that invite somebody to show up for an interview, but have no current openings.

Scam artists try to rob people of money. If that doesn't work, victims are robbed of time. Either way, something valuable has been lost and the job which looked so promising was in fact nothing more than an illusion.

Real jobs will require a résumé, probably more than one face to face interview, and a background check. Craigslist scammers might ask for a résumé but will never conduct in person interviews or thorough background checks.

Apartment Scams

Criminals can cause all kinds of problems for renters seeking affordable apartments. In expensive cities in North America and elsewhere, desperate people are easy targets. Here are signs that should alert those who are searching for an apartment to look somewhere else:

  • The person leasing the apartment will come up with excuse after excuse explaining why the place can't be seen.
  • The landlord claims it's not necessary to fill out a rental application.
  • Photographs are unfocused or look like they were taken in different places.
  • The apartment is located in an exclusive area but the price is unbelievably cheap.

An apartment costing $1,000 a month near Central Park in New York City is far too low to be taken seriously. Another huge red flag would be if the apartment isn't in the location that the scammer says it is. Fraudsters may juggle several shady schemes at once, and it's not surprising that they could mix up important details. Advertisements and contracts will be riddled with spelling and grammatical errors.

Buying and Selling Scams

Cars, furniture, computers, toys, sentimental items, antiques and just about anything else is up for grabs on Craigslist. Problems come up when people try to get something for nothing, and there are plenty of those types of individuals in the Craigslist universe. Buyers and sellers should be wary of using Western Union or MoneyGram. These transactions are final and can't be reversed. Somebody can pick up the money anywhere in the world and once it's gone, it's gone forever.

Only deal with people who live in the same vicinity as you. Any rational person who is buying something would want to see it first. Individuals in far off states and foreign countries obviously can't be seen in person and it's impossible to know who they are or what they've got. Never divulge information that should remain confidential, i.e. bank account number, PayPal account number, etc. That would be opening to door to theft and something much worse like identity theft.


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