Millions of people love the free classifieds site Craigslist and use it regularly, even on mobile devices. But you need to be aware of potential fraud and people trying to scam you out of your money.
We’ve conducted some research and observed some of the more sketchy listings on the site. We then put together a list of ways you can try to spot a fraudulent deal on the site. Sure, a lot of this may appear to be common sense (if it seems too good to be true…), but we all can have the tendency to get carried away with a seemingly great deal.
If you’re concerned about getting trapped in a Craigslist scam, review our tips here, and keep them in mind.
1. Don’t Wire Money
You should never wire money to anyone through Craigslist. Ever. If the seller of an item wants you to pay through a service like Western Union or MoneyGram, do not do business with them. At the top of the Craigslist site, it clearly warns you that “anyone who asks you to do so is likely a scammer”, so take their advice.
2. Don’t Use Escrow Services
While using an escrow service for online transactions might seem like a safe bet, there’s a good chance it’s a scam. There are legitimate escrow services out there, but it is far too easy for Craigslist scammers to set up fake sites that look like the real deal.
3. Craigslist Doesn’t Do “Guarantees”
Beware of any claims that Craigslist will guarantee a transaction, or offer buyer protection. There is no such thing. Craigslist makes it clear that it “is not involved in any transaction” and goes on to say that it “does not handle payments, guarantee transactions, provide escrow services, or offer buyer protection of seller certification.”
4. Photos/ Scans of Cashier’s Checks
Never send any goods or perform any services based on being sent a photo or scan of a cashier’s check or money order. You should always wait until you have received the check- and cleared it- before you complete a deal. Beyond that, Craigslist cautions that fake cashier’s checks are common, and you have no way to know until it bounces at your bank.
Also, never accept a check for a greater amount and agree to wire back the difference. This is always a scam, and you should cease dealing with this person immediately.
5. Don’t Make a Partial Payment
Never pay any amount- no matter how small- up front. If anyone asks you to secure something with a deposit, or send some of the money first, they’re almost certainly a scammer or con artist. The best practice is to meet people face to face (in a safe, public location) to exchange money or services. As Craigslist states, you should only “deal locally with people you can meet in person. Follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts.”
Photo by imelenchon