Can You Get Scammed on Craigslist?

Here are our top tips to prevent yourself from being taken advantage of on Craigslist.

Craigslist is an American website that acts as a platform to host classified ads posted by its millions of users. Owing to the nature of the site, it has unfortunately become a breeding ground for scams and fraudulent activity. Craigslist scams involve everything from fraudulent money services to fake products and questionable interactions. As a result, criminals have managed to fine tune their skills with the most elaborate ways to defraud their victims.

Although Craigslist scams may be difficult to spot, there are a number of recurring ones that can be identified if you know what you’re looking for.

How to Spot a Craigslist Scam – Six Scams to Be Aware of

Fake or Canceled Tickets

Ticket scams still appear to be very common on Craigslist and scammers’ first weapon of choice.

The art of creating authentic looking tickets has become so sophisticated that unfortunate victims often only realize they have been scammed when they are denied access at the venue. For instance, counterfeiters are even able to replicate watermarks and holograms on concert tickets, sporting events and airline tickets.

In addition to fake tickets, another common trick on Craigslist is for scammers to list authentic tickets for events that have been canceled.

Non-Local Ads

Generally speaking, if a person posting an ad is not in your local area, it should be treated with caution. Scammers use the method of posting from a far-away place to avoid personal interaction and a proper exchange of goods for cash. They often request payment via an online payment platform of their choice that they use for shady dealings.

Keep an eye out for ads posted from distant places that necessitate online transactions. It is far safer to walk away from listings where a seller is unable or unwilling to meet in person. 

Cloned Craigslist Sites

Scams have become so sophisticated that scammers are able to duplicate entire websites. And this is exactly what was done in the past with Craigslist. Scammers used lookalike Craigslist sites with similar domain names with the hopes of luring unsuspecting victims. It is important when performing a search for Craigslist related products to ensure the final domain you arrive at is the official Craigslist website.

Craigslist PayPal Scams

PayPal’s website advises its clients to keep an eye out for email correspondence that does not address the client by their name and emails that claim that money is being held until an action is performed.

PayPal warns its customers to exercise caution when using sites such as Craigslist for transactions as scammers like to feign using the payment processor to transfer funds. They either don’t follow through with the transaction or they send fake PayPal emails as confirmation of payment.

Fake Checks and Money Orders

If a buyer attempts to make a payment with a wire transfer or money order, it should raise the alarm bells.

Scammers today have mastered the art of fake packing slips, fake checks and money orders that claim to be from trustworthy institutions. Tread carefully as these scams often tempt you to send the purchased goods before the money order or fake check “clears.”

It is best to avoid dealing with money orders altogether on Craigslist. If checks are your only option, ensure that it clears before sending off the purchased item.

Fake Craigslist Purchase Protection

Craigslist does not guarantee transactions and definitely does not offer purchase protection plans. Stay far away from any correspondence that claims to protect or verify your most recent transaction.

Although an email received from Craigslist may seem authentic, scammers are known to push fake purchase plans to scam unsuspecting users.

In order to stay protected, avoid suspicious emails that include anything to do with verification or protection directly from Craigslist.

How to Avoid Scams on Craigslist

As with all scams, the best way to protect yourself is to understand that scams are everywhere and that everything should be treated with an element of caution. That being said, when it comes to Craigslist, there are a number of effective measures that can be put in place to ensure you are protected.

According to Craigslist, the following safeguards will help protect you when transacting online:

  • Be cautious of offers that involve shipping, deal with locals you can meet in person
  • Avoid wire transfers through Western Union
  • Don’t accept certified checks or money orders; banks will hold you responsible
  • Transactions are between users only, no third party provides a “guarantee”
  • Never give out personal financial information
  • Do not rent or purchase anything without verifying its existence
  • Refuse background or credit checks until you have met the landlord or employer in person
  • Any message asking you to access or check “craigslist voicemails” or “craigslist voice messages” is fraudulent as no such service exists

How to Report a Scam on Craigslist

There are a number of ways one can report a scam on Craigslist. This can be done while still in communication with the scammer as well as after the deal has been concluded.

Flag Listing Directly on Craigslist or Via Email Reply

To flag a listing, select the flag icon at the top of your internet browser.

In order to flag an email received from the scammer, scroll to the bottom of the email and click the link under the text that reads, “Please flag unwanted messages (spam, scam, other):.” 

Inform the Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission has a great tool to notify the agency about scams. In addition to alerting the authorities, the tool also helps them track trends and fraud patterns.

Report It to the Better Business Bureau

A form can be filled out on the Better Business Bureau website which will help them investigate the scam and send warnings out to consumers. Simply log on to the website and provide them with all the relevant information pertaining to the scam.

File a Complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center

An internet crime complaint can be submitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation by providing them with your personal details, as well as information pertaining to the transaction and the scammer. If you have fallen victim to a Craigslist scam or any other scam and are looking to recover your funds, contact MyChargeBack today for a free consultation. We are an American financial services firm with a global reach. Working with over 800 banks worldwide, we have assisted clients on every continent recover millions of dollars in assets they thought they had lost for good.  What is a chargeback? Click here to find out