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Craigslist Scams: Tips To Avoid Losing Money

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 04/23/2012 12:24 pm Updated: 04/23/2012 12:47 pm


Craigslist can be an exciting marketplace of steals and deals or a gateway to a sold out show. But the site is also ripe with scammers who are looking to profit off of your willingness to fork over cash to total strangers.

In July, Jamie O'Leary lost $1,500 when she fell for a fake Craigslist ad referencing a cheap rental home. After seeing the home, O'Leary wired cash to Nigeria, and was told she would subsequently receive keys and a rental contract. But the keys and the contract would never come. The home, O'Leary learned, was actually up for sale.

Last year, Romanian and U.S. authorities arrested more 100 people involved in eBay or Craigslist scams. Romanians pretending to be U.S. citizens had advertised the fake sale of expensive items on the online marketplaces and required wire transfers before delivery. The scams cost Americans more than $100 million.

The key to avoiding these cons is to be a defensive online shopper.

Here are some tips on how to use the site without being scammed:

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  • Don't Believe Anything Craigslist-Cerified

    Craigslist does not certify or guarantee any kind of transaction made on the site. Anybody who makes that claim is deceiving you. <a href="" target="_hplink">(h/t Seattle Times)</a>

  • View High-Priced Items In Person

    Make sure you see expensive items with your own eyes before making any payments. <a href="" target="_hplink">(h/t Seattle Times)</a>

  • Protect Your Financial Information

    Safeguard all your financial information, such as bank account info, social security number and PayPal details. <a href="" target="_hplink">(h/t BBC)</a>

  • Avoid Wire Transfers

    Do not use wire services for money transactions under any circumstances. <a href="" target="_hplink">(h/t BBC)</a>

  • Meet The Other Party

    If the other party doesn't want to meet you in person, take that as a bad sign. <a href="" target="_hplink">(h/t BBC)</a>

  • Make Sure Checks Are Authentic

    Be wary of counterfeit checks and money orders. A check written for an amount greater than the selling price is a red flag. (h/t Seattle Times)

  • Safeguard Your Personal Email Address

    Your email account might get phished if you post your address for public viewing anywhere on the site. <a href="" target="_hplink">(h/t Yahoo Voices)</a>

  • Ask Questions To Check Validity

    Avoid making transactions with anybody who is unwilling to disclose information about the product or position they are advertising. <a href="" target="_hplink">(h/t Yahoo Voices)</a>