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Avoid These 5 Most Common Craigslist Scams

Scam alert word written on wood block. Scam alert text on table, concept

Whether you’re looking for a great deal on furniture or equipment for your new business, or you’re looking for a new job, or even to date someone, Craigslist has been the go-to site for buyers and sellers. The only problem is that many times what looks to be too good to be true is just that – a scam. It’s wise to know what types of scams are being pulled on Craigslist, and how you can avoid them.


The “overpayment” scam is often used on a variety of merchandise categories, whether it’s for car purchases, apartment rentals or concert or sports tickets. The buyer sends a cashier’s check or money order for the item you’re selling, but they send an amount that’s higher than the asking price. You’ve already deposited the check, which shows being credited to your account by your bank. The buyer asks you to simply wire the overpayment back to them. The problem: their “cashier’s check” or “money order” is bogus, and you’ll end up paying them money from your bank account and their check will bounce.

Pro Tip: Never accept any funds that are over the amount agreed to – and verify the check’s authenticity with your bank BEFORE you deposit it.

Apartment Rental or Phishing?

Looking for the perfect apartment or house to rent? Many people head over te Craigslist’s home rental section. You’ll find gorgeous photos of great-looking apartments and homes, but the problem is they’re usually stock photos and have nothing to do with a specific apartment that’s listed. That’s when the scam artist will go to work.

He or she will claim to be out on a business trip or vacation, but will assure you they will return quickly. You’ll be asked to wire the deposit and an advance on the first month’s rent – and then “poof!” – they’ll be gone for good. And unfortunately, so will your money.

Pro Tip: Never wire money without actually seeing the apartment or home in person.  Also, if you do correspond with the person who claims to have authority to rent the apartment or home, do your own vetting. Use an online tool like Nuwber to verify that the phone number listed matches up with the name of the person contacting you. Do the same with their email address. That way you’ll know in advance if it’s really a legitimate rental offer, or just another phishing ploy. Here’s where an “ounce of prevention” is worth many pounds of cure!

Tickets Please

It never fails – an upcoming NFL or NBA season is on the horizon, and all of a sudden season tickets for sale appear on Craigslist. While many offers are legitimate, many are only after your money and personal information. As with other scams, ticket scammers create “official looking” ticket sites that you’ll be redirected to, and the minute you enter your credit card info – your personal information is compromised.

Pro Tip: As anxious as you are to be a season ticket holder for your favorite sports team, you need to pause and vet the ticket sell. As with other scams, you need to verify their identity via online web tools like Nuwber and others to check on the holder of a phone number or email address. Only then can you start entering any personal or financial information with peace-of-mind.

Bargain Hunter’s Delight

Everyone loves a great deal. But when that deal sounds too good to be true, watch out! It doesn’t matter what type of item you’re looking for, Here’s what happens: an item that has an extremely low price comes with an email that talks about how desperate the person is, and begs you to send a deposit to hold the item or pay to ship larger items, like a car for example.  The item doesn’t really exist, and if you comply with their request, you’re going to be out the money. Guaranteed.

Pro Tip: If you are prepared, you won’t be scammed! Know the value of the item you want to buy BEFORE you begin to entertain the thought of buying it. By doing this, you’ll be able to recognize a scam from a really good deal. Look for sites that have pricing information on all types of merchandise, and arm yourself with that knowledge.

Fake PayPal emails

Most folks recognize the name “PayPal.” So when a seller promises to send your merchandise, they’ll send you an email asking you to sign into your PayPal account to send payment or even to track your purchase. The email has a PayPal link – except – it’s not the real PayPal site. It’s a look-alike site they’ve built, and once you try to sign in using your info, they’ve got you. You just logged into a spoof site and your information is compromised.

Pro Tip: As with other merchandise, never send a payment online for something you want to buy. Always meet in person, at a public place, before exchanging any money.

These are just examples of the scams you’ll find with Craigslist. You’ve heard the expression, “buyer beware,” and the more aware you are, the safer it is for you!

Published: May 20, 2020

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victoria kolyhan

Victoria Kolyhan

Victoria Kolyhan works in the IT sphere and enjoys writing articles on topics like Lifestyle, Social Media and Online Security. When she is not writing, you may find her travelling across the world, eating sushi or enjoying life with her family.

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