I have a love/hate relationship with Craigslist. I love the occasional deal I get (like the 25 hp outboard motor I just got) and I love how people use it to find stuff I’m selling or renting out (like an apartment). But I hate the way some people completely over price what they are selling, thinking that old boat motor is worth what a new one costs. Or worse, when scammers contact Craigslisters every time they post an ad trying to get them to ship something overseas and scam them out of their money.
Craigslist should be used with caution. People have been robbed, burglarized, scammed and in some cases their homes were invaded and some people have been killed.
I once listed a property for rent that was relisted for a 1/3rd of my asking price by scammers. People would pull into my driveway and knock on my door while the listing was active and after the listing I posted had expired too.
In Connecticut, a mother, father and son traveled a hundred miles to see a home for rent. The only trouble was, the homeowner wasn’t renting it out and she was still living in it. She was in fact trying to sell it. And when the real estate agent listed it for sale, she also syndicated the ad to multiple sites including Craigslist.
Just like my situation, she had to explain to the people who showed up they were scammed.
Here’s how the scam often works. The scammer copies and pastes the ad and poses as the homeowner who is conveniently away traveling on business in the UK. The scammer lists the ad for much less than is being asked to generate traffic. When people respond to the ad, the scammer tells them they can rent it out and all they have to do is forward him the first month’s rent via a money wire overseas. Some people will want to drive by to get a look without actually going in and that’s enough for them to send the money.
The way I thwarted this crime under my watch was to continually scan Craigslist for key words related to my ad to see if it was being posted by a scammer. When I discovered a fraudulent post, I emailed firstname.lastname@example.org with the link. Craigslist was very responsive and took the posts down. I had to do this almost 20 times (the hate part) during the period I was renting out an apartment.
With Craigslist, be very careful who you contact and who contacts you. You never know who the person is or what their motivation may be.