8 Clever Craigslist Scams That Just Will Not Go Away

Most people have used Craigslist — the community website that helps people browse real estate, personal ads, concert tickets, furniture, jobs, and almost every other item you could think of — at least once. It can be a great way to get in touch with people in your area that have needs that correspond with your own. However, Craigslist also happens to be a harbinger of crooks and people looking to profit over your naiveté. You should never respond to a Craigslist user that wants you to wire money to them, uses poor grammar in a job description email, or has an offer that simply seems too good to be true. These are common red flags for a Craigslist scam. Below, we list some of the ways Craigslist scammers can get the best of you and your finances.

  1. The Cell Phone Scam

    One of the latest Craigslist scam does some serious damage to your cellphone bill. In the scam, a “buyer” responds to your ad selling an item stating that he or she is very interested in purchasing the item from you, but happens to be at work and can’t talk until after. Instead of simply providing their phone number, they ask you to type your phone number into a website that “stores information” for them. After you type your phone number in, not only will you never hear from them again, you’ll also start being charged $9.95 per month on your cellphone bill for seemingly no reason. Most irritatingly, you’ll have no means for cancelling this unknown service and will be forced to cancel your credit card.

  2. The Overpayment Scam

    Occasionally, if you’re selling something on Craigslist, a user will offer to send you a check for the item. Upon receiving it, you’ll notice that it’s made out for substantially more than you originally asked. The scammer will pretend they sent you the excess money on accident, and being the Good Samaritan you are, you wire back the difference after you deposit the fake check. Once the check bounces, you’ve paid the scammer and you owe the bank money. You will also have given them the item in question for free!

  3. The Rental Scam

    One common Craigslist scam involves renting a house or apartment. The scammer will post pictures of the place, often off of the actual listing as it’s shown on the realtor’s website. The scammer will pose as the homeowner, but will conveniently be overseas or unable to meet in person for some given reason, so they will require the deposit and first month’s rent to be wired to them. After they have your money, they’ll disappear without a trace and you’ll never be able to move into your dream rental.

  4. The Free Stuff Scam

    The free stuff scam on Craigslist is one of the more malicious scams, as the scammer receives no personal gain from the situation, save for the satisfaction that he’s done harm to multiple people. Craigslist has a free stuff section in which users are able to give away items that they no longer want or see use for. However, some scammers will pose as a user looking to get rid of a mass amount of items. Often they explain that they will be leaving the country and need to get rid of their belongings immediately, when in fact, the scammer is simply inviting people to burglarize an innocent victim. When the victim finds their property missing, they are able to prosecute anyone that was duped by the scam.

  5. The Pet Scam

    If you’ve lost a pet, Craigslist may seem like a great place to post missing ads, as you can connect with people in your specific community. However, once you’ve provided details as to the pet’s name, appearance, and your contact information, the scammer has nearly everything they need to rip you off. All the scammer has to do is tell you that they have the pet, but it requires costly veterinary care, they need money for shipping the pet to you, or they require some sort of reward in advance. They should have no problem convincing you that they have the pet, since you’ve already provided a photo for identification. In every scenario, you’ll wind up sending money for what you assume to be your pet’s best interest, but the scammer doesn’t have your missing dog and they’re really only interested in taking your money.

  6. The Job Scam

    By far, the most prolific scamming on Craigslist hones in on the severe unemployment rates plaguing America. There are multiple variations on this scam, but usually it involves an easy job that pays incredibly well. Sometimes, the posting will sound like an average desk job, but after interest has been piqued, the job description will be relayed to you as a far less genuine sounding offer. Once you’ve been put in contact, the scammer will describe a job to you where you sign up for various trial offers, such as Netflix. After you’ve given these websites your information, the scammer will “reimburse you” in addition to the exorbitant pay that the job offers. In reality, the scammer is using the websites to get your personal account information. They will not pay you. In fact, in a few months’ time, you’ll probably see strange activity in your bank account and wind up having to cancel your card. Employers also do a similar scam in which they offer you a job, but require you to sign up for a free credit score website, in which you type in your social security number. From there, they steal your identity. Even if they have a website and an operable phone number, don’t assume they’re a legitimate company.

  7. The Ticket Scam

    Craigslist has a section specifically devoted to the resale of tickets to local events such as concerts or festivals. They might even be plane tickets. Scammers have gotten pretty clever at this scam, as they will offer the tickets at a low or reasonable price, and after some communication, redirect you to a ticket site that appears to be both authentic and well known. For example, they may send an email that appears to be from Stubhub, complete with the logo and a long explanation of how you can wire the money safely to your seller with their special Stubhub protection program. Stubhub does have a protection program, but it can only be enacted on orders made directly through the website. Further, Stubhub doesn’t accept wire transfers. A clue that you’re being scammed might be the email address itself in which the fake Stubhub email has been sent from. If it doesn’t actually end in “@stubhub.com,” it has likely been fabricated by the scammer to resemble an actual email you’d receive from this website. You should also always check if the tickets in question are listed on the website supposedly being used for purchasing purposes.

  8. The Personal Ad Scam

    Craigslist personal ads range from cute girls looking for a date to far less innocent activity, but the majority of these ads are just another Craigslist scam. If you respond to any of the ads, you’ll likely get a response within seconds, since the scammer usually has the email set to send an auto-response. In their email, they’ll say something along the lines of “I’d love to chat with you! Visit my profile at this website so we can keep talking,” followed by a link to the aforementioned website. One of the most common websites used is identified as “Craigslist Safe.” It is made to look like a verification website, supposedly so the cute girl can make sure you’re a safe prospect for a date. In reality, the minute you sign up for this website, the scammer gets a commission from the website, and you’ll probably start getting all kinds of porn in your inbox.