8 Craigslist scams to recognize and avoid (2024)

How do Craigslist scams work?

Craigslist scams are usually after money, bank account information, and other valuable information.

Craigslist scams can work on multiple angles, promises, or products:

  • Sellers post Craigslist ads for items that do not belong to them, like apartment rentals.
  • Some criminals might prefer face-to-face meetings only to lure victims into particular areas. Such scams could even pose a threat to your physical safety.
  • Sellers require upfront payments without letting you view the goods in person.
  • Scammers post ads and engage with buyers to capture users’ personal information.

Can you trust people on Craigslist?

It is best never to trust someone on Craigslist fully to avoid the risks of encountering a scam. However, certain signs can suggest whether the person is a genuine buyer or seller.

  • Most Craigslist scammers will not agree to meet in person. Instead, even local sellers will prefer shipping.
  • More cunning scammers can also choose more private and anonymous instant messaging platforms.
  • Criminals can require payments through services that offer little buyer protection, like Zelle or Cash App.
  • If the seller or buyer requires a lot of personal information that is unnecessary for the transaction, it might be a scam.

What to avoid on Craigslist

  • Be wary of offers and deals that are too good to be true.
  • Craigslist does not facilitate payments. Any guarantees or purchase protections mentioned are fraudulent.
  • It is best not to use escrow service sites as they might belong to scammers.
  • Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace should not be a place for upfront payments. Ideally, buying and selling transactions happen in person and in a safe location.

These tips for Craigslist security can be beneficial if you’re trying to stay on the safe side while browsing.

What can Craigslist scammers do with your personal information?

Craigslist scammers can use various means to extort users’ personal information. Usually, people encountering scammers note these details required:

  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Credit card information
  • Home address
  • Social security number
  • Full name

Criminals could abuse this information to commit synthetic identity theft. With enough information, they could steal assets and accounts.

What are common Craigslist scams?

Craigslist scams usually fall into particular categories. See which deals might make you look the other way.

1. Rental scams

Craigslist housing scams refer to fake offers to rent houses or apartments. The first red flag of such fraud is the attractive price.

In reality, alleged sellers have nothing to do with the rental properties. People living in these houses and flats might not know someone posted their property as bait.

Here are the main goals of Craigslist rental scams:

  • Scammers require hefty sums to reserve the apartment.
  • They can require upfront payments to deal with the paperwork.
  • Renters will need to send money before ever visiting the property.
  • Criminals could also require people to fill out forms to determine if they are suitable tenants. Such forms can require bank information, social security numbers, email addresses, licenses, and credit reports.

2. Car scams

Many Craigslist scams also pretend to offer items like cars. It is common for such fraud to follow these scenarios:

  • Scammers try to sell vehicles that do not belong to them.
  • The seller prices the car or other motor vehicle at a surprisingly low price.
  • Criminals insist on using a spoofed online escrow site.

The usual goal of Craigslist scams offering pricey items like cars is to get an upfront payment.

3. Fake escrow services

Craigslist scammers might suggest using an escrow service to guarantee that the buyer’s money is safe. An escrow service is a third party between the buyer and seller that holds the funds until the contract conditions are met.

Unfortunately, scammers can spoof legitimate escrow services or create fake ones. If a Craigslist seller or buyer insists on using an escrow, consider it a red flag.

4. Scams for sellers

While many Craigslist scams target buyers, sellers are not immune. Buyers could also send fake checks or bank statements. The unsuspecting seller ships the item but never receives the money.

5. ‘Send a code’ Google Voice scam

Craigslist scammers might also try to set up a Google Voice linked to victims’ phone numbers. Thus, they can trick other people while hiding their true identity.

The Google Voice scam happens as follows:

  • A fraudulent buyer contacts the seller and states they wish to buy the item.
  • However, fearing fake listings, they wish to verify that the seller is reliable.
  • The seller receives a 6-digit Google Voice verification code.
  • Buyers insist that the seller sends them the code.
  • If the seller complies, the buyer creates a Google Voice linked to their number.

The scammer will likely use the Google Voice account to make more fraudulent calls and fraud.

6. Cashier’s check scams

The buyer might send a cashier’s check for the item listed on Craigslist. However, it is usually a fake check. The most worrying factor is that when the sellers cash the check, banks will suspect them. Thus, sellers might even face legal issues for fake checks.

Another common Craigslist scam is a check that exceeds the price of items. Buyers could state it happened accidentally and ask you to send the difference. The check will bounce, and sellers have paid them out of pocket.

7. Fraudulent job listings

Craigslist scams can also focus on people looking for jobs. The fake job offer will likely offer excellent conditions and salary. Here are some red flags that show a job posting might be fake:

  • The job requires no experience but promises a high salary.
  • Recruiters ask you to pay for training or equipment before you begin.
  • Candidates need to provide highly sensitive information like bank details.
  • Recruiters claim to work for a well-known company but provide no proof.
  • Candidates need to buy certain products to start working.

8. Phishing emails impersonating Craigslist

Scammers might also send verification or purchase protection emails claiming to be from Craigslist. Do not trust such emails, as Craigslist does not offer such services.

How to report a Craigslist scam

If you fall victim to Craigslist scams, report the situation immediately. You might need to contact multiple providers depending on the situation. For instance, you might need to call your bank to stop any transactions.

People in the United States can report Craigslist scams to the following authorities:

  • Internet Fraud Complaint Center
  • FTC complaint form and hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)

If you are from a different country, contact the authorities dealing with online fraud.

8 Craigslist scams to recognize and avoid (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Cheryll Lueilwitz

Last Updated:

Views: 6204

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (54 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Cheryll Lueilwitz

Birthday: 1997-12-23

Address: 4653 O'Kon Hill, Lake Juanstad, AR 65469

Phone: +494124489301

Job: Marketing Representative

Hobby: Reading, Ice skating, Foraging, BASE jumping, Hiking, Skateboarding, Kayaking

Introduction: My name is Cheryll Lueilwitz, I am a sparkling, clean, super, lucky, joyous, outstanding, lucky person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.