Craigslist has been around for a while, and many people I know use this service to buy and sell items. Unfortunately, (like in most aspects of our lives now) thieves and scammers are always out there trying to take advantage of good people. I have recently had some one call and ask me about a transaction over Craig’s list that was found out to be a scam. Below is a list of popular Craig’s list scams that everyone needs to look out for and be aware of.
Someone claims Craigslist will guarantee a transaction, certify a buyer/seller, OR will handle or provide protection for a payment. These claims are fraudulent, as Craigslist does not have any role in any transaction. The scammer will often send an official looking (but fake) email that appears to come from Craigslist offering a guarantee, certifying a seller, or offering to handle payments.
A distant person offers a genuine-looking (but fake) cashier’s check. You receive an email offering to buy your item, sight unseen. The scammer offers a cashier’s check for your sale item as a deposit. The value of cashier’s check, however, far exceeds your item. The scammer offers to “trust” you, and asks you to wire him back the balance via money transfer service. Banks will often unknowingly cash fake certified checks and then hold you responsible when the check finally fails to clear. You are now legally responsible for paying the bank the value of the bad certified check.
Someone requests wire service payment via Western Union or MoneyGram. Scam “bait” items include apartments, laptops, TVs, cell phones, tickets, and other high value items. These scams often claim that an MTCN or confirmation code is needed before he can withdraw your money. This is false, however, and once you’ve wired money, it is gone. Common countries currently include: Nigeria, Romania, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Spain, Italy, Netherlands—but could be anywhere.
A distant person offers to send you a money order and then have you wire money back to them. Much like the scam where a trusting buyer gives you a certified check for your item then requests the balance be wired to him, this is always a scam. The cashier’s check is fake and once the bank discovers this, you will have to pay them the money back.
A distant seller suggests use of an online escrow service. Most online escrow sites are fraudulent and operated by scammers. It is a good idea to stay away from this sort of transaction altogether.
A distant seller asks for a partial payment upfront, after which he will ship goods. The seller will tell you he says he trusts you with the partial payment and may even say that he has already shipped the goods.
There are a lot of scams out there in today’s marketplace, so always be careful when dealing with someone over the phone or the internet. Just remember that the old saying “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is” is usually right — otherwise, it wouldn’t be an old saying.