You can sidestep would-be scammers by following these common-sense rules whenever using craigslist:
- DEAL LOCALLY WITH FOLKS YOU CAN MEET IN PERSON - follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts.
- NEVER WIRE FUNDS VIA WESTERN UNION, MONEYGRAM or any other wire service - anyone who asks you to do so is likely a scammer.
- FAKE CASHIER CHECKS & MONEY ORDERS ARE COMMON, and BANKS WILL CASH THEM AND THEN HOLD YOU RESPONSIBLE when the fake is discovered weeks later.
- CRAIGSLIST IS NOT INVOLVED IN ANY TRANSACTION, and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions, provide escrow services, or offer "buyer protection" or "seller certification"
- NEVER GIVE OUT FINANCIAL INFORMATION (bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.)
- AVOID DEALS INVOLVING SHIPPING OR ESCROW SERVICES and know that ONLY A SCAMMER WILL "GUARANTEE" YOUR TRANSACTION.
- DO NOT RENT HOUSING WITHOUT SEEING THE INTERIOR, OR PURCHASE EXPENSIVE ITEMS SIGHT-UNSEEN - in all likelihood that housing unit is not actually for rent and that cheap item does not exist.
- DO NOT SUBMIT TO CREDIT CHECKS OR BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR A JOB OR FOR HOUSING UNTIL YOU HAVE MET THE INTERVIEWER OR LANDLORD/AGENT IN PERSON.
Who should I notify about fraud or scam attempts?
resources for Ohio residents
If you are defrauded by someone you met in person, contact your local police department.
If you suspect that a craigslist post may be part of a scam, please send us the details
Most scams involve one or more of the following:
- inquiry from someone far away, often in another country
- Western Union, Money Gram, cashier's check, money order, shipping, escrow service, or a "guarantee"
- inability or refusal to meet face-to-face before consumating transaction
Examples of Scams
1. Someone claims that craigslist will guarantee a transaction, certify a buyer/seller, OR claims that craigslist will handle or provide protection for a payment.
- These claims are fraudulent, as craigslist does not have any role in any transaction.
- Scammer will often send an official looking email that appears to come from craigslist, offering a guarantee, certifying a seller, providing payment services -- all such emails are fakes!
2. distant person offers a genuine-looking (but fake) cashier's check
- you receive an email (examples below) offering to buy your item, or rent your apartment, sight unseen.
- cashier's check is offered for your sale item, as a deposit for an apartment, or for your services.
- value of cashier's check often far exceeds your item - scammer offers to "trust" you, and asks you to wire the balance via money transfer service
- banks will often cash these fake checks AND THEN HOLD YOU RESPONSIBLE WHEN THE CHECK FAILS TO CLEAR, including criminal prosecution in some cases!
- scam often involves a 3rd party (shipping agent, business associate owing buyer money, etc)
3. 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
- Often claim that an MTCN or confirmation code is needed before he can withdraw your money - this is FALSE, once you've wired money, it is GONE.
- Common countries currently include: Nigeria, Romania, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Spain, Italy, Netherlands - but could be anywhere
- Apartment listing may be local, but landlord/owner is "travelling" or "relocating" and needs you to wire money to them abroad
- Deal often seems too good to be true, price is too low, rent is below market, etc
4. distant person offers to send you a money order and then have you wire money:
- this is ALWAYS a scam, in our experience - the cashier's check is FAKE
- sometimes accompanies an offer of merchandise, sometimes not
- scammer often asks for your name, address, etc for printing on the fake check
- deal often seems too good to be true
5. distant seller suggests use of an online escrow service.
- most online escrow sites are FRAUDULENT, operated by scammers
- for more info, do a google search on "fake escrow" or "escrow fraud"
6. distant seller asks for a partial payment upfront, after which he will ship goods
- he says he trusts you with the partial payment
- he may say he has already shipped the goods
- deal often sounds too good to be true
7. foreign company offers you a job receiving payments from customers, then wiring funds
- foreign company may claim it is unable to receive payments from its customers directly
- you are typically offered a percentage of payments received
- this kind of "position" may be posted as a job, or offered to you via email
Actual scam emails sent to craigslist users:
I am selling this car because my platoon has been sent back to Afganistan and don't want it get old in my backyard. The price is low because I need to sell it before November 16th. It has no damage, no scratches or dents, no hidden defects. It is in immaculate condition, meticulously maintained and hasn't been involved in any accident...I do have the title , clear, under my name. The Denali has 35,000 miles VIN# 1GKEK63U16J138428 .
It is still available for sale if interested, price as stated in the ad $4,300. The car is in Baltimore, MD, in case it gets sold I will take care of shipping. Let me know if you are interested, email back.
First of all I want to thank you for your interest for my car. I sell it at this price($2,980.00 ) because I have been divorced recently. Now the car is in my property and as a woman i don't need it. This car is in excellent working conditions, no scratches, flaws or any kind of damage, slightly used in 100% working and looking conditions and comes with a clear title.
From the beginning you have to know that for the payment I request only secure pay, I prefer the payment to be done using eBay services. We will use a safe payment method because I am affiliated at eBay and I have a purchase protection account for $20,000.00 The final price that I want for this car is $2,980.00 including shipping and handling.
If you are interested in buying it please provide me your full name and address so I can initiate the deal through eBay.
I will wait your answer very soon.
I am looking for caring and honest person to watch my 3 years old daughter while I work, during our stay in the state and a friend introduced craiglist.com to me, I was searching on Childcare Babysitter, when your Ad post pumped up as a Childcare and Babysitter, am interested in your service as my babysitter/Childcare.. My Little daughters is (Mellina ) , I would like you to watch over her while i am at work in your Location , I reside in United Kingdom,I will be coming to the States in about two weeks time , Cos I just got a contract with Boss Perfume fashion industry down there, I work as a model and the contract will last for a month, the duration of our service wil be from 10am to 5pm, monday thru friday, I would like to know if she will be taken care of in your childcare centre/Home, or the hotel room where i would be lodging, It's Okay by me, any of this ways.
My little daughter (Mellina ) is 3 years old, I will be waiting patiently for your email indicating the cost of everything,I mean the price for your service,how long you will be available to take care of her,how much u charge per week. she is just three years old as i have said earlier and i will be glad to update you and make the payment in advance to show you how serious i am. So please get back to me as soon as you can if you will be able to handle her and take very good care of her for me.
Email me back
> Thanks for your mail,Since the cost of your bike is $800 i just contacted
my client about the cost of your bike and it present condition and he said
there is no problem about that.So my client said he will be issuing you a
Certified Check of $4000 while you wire 3000 to me through Western Union
Money Trasfer and you deduct the cost of your bike $800 and keep the
remaining $200 which my client said you should take for the terms of
Transaction and Agreement between you and my client.So i will like you to
send me your full contact information to where my client will be sending you
> the Certified Check like this:
> full address.............
> cell/office/home phone number.......................
> I will look forward to the requested information as soon as possible so
that the check can be sent out to you immediately And do get back to me
with the Pics of the bike so that my client will be Able to see What he
is paying off.Get back to me immediately. Looking torwards your
> Best Regards.
Craigslist Scam Alert
Due to the concerns over the scams that are happening on Craigslist, NARPM® has compiled the following items to help you deal with this issue.
To have the listings removed from Craigslist:
- How to spot and report a scam to Craigslist
- If you suspect that an item posted for sale on Craigslist may be part of a scam, please e-mail the details to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include the URL (or 10-digit post ID number) in your message.
- Please use the "spam" flag link in the top right corner of a spam posting.
- Watch this video on how to report a SCAM to the FTC
- File a complaint with IC3, a partnership between the FBI, the National White Collar Crime Center, and the Bureau of Justice Assistance, whose mission is to serve as a vehicle to receive, develop, and refer criminal complaints related to cyber crime.
- #1 Pull up the listing on Craigslist and select the "Prohibited" tab to have Craigslist investigate it. One NARPM® member had their scam listing removed in about 48 hours. If there is more than one listing for the same property, you can select "spam/over post" and have the second listing with the same address removed also.
- #2 Go to the Craigslist home page and select the "avoid scams & fraud" tab on the left to report the scam listings to the FTC and IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center) or go to http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.