Craigslist offers a useful marketplace for buying and selling goods and services. While it may have taken the place of newspaper classifieds as the most common way to conduct local business, it is not free from scams.
There are a few options available to you if a scammer on Craigslist has targeted you or someone you know. While there is no guarantee the con artist will be apprehended and any lost money or valuables will be returned, it is nevertheless worthwhile to take all reasonable steps to try to stop the con from occurring to someone else in the future.
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What Happens When a Scam is Reported on Craigslist?
When you report a Craigslist scam directly on Craigslist, it alerts the administrators so they can determine whether it needs to be taken down. The authorities can choose whether or how to conduct an inquiry after you report a Craigslist fraud to them.
Unfortunately, it is particularly challenging to identify and prosecute internet scammers, especially those who prey on people on Craigslist, for two main reasons:
- Scammers operate their schemes undercover at all times. To ensure that no indication of their real identity is connected to their scamming activities, they utilize false identities, bogus accounts, stolen data (such as credit card information), and other techniques.
- There are only so many things that U.S. law enforcement can undertake to apprehend overseas con artists. The majority of scammers operate internationally, and even if the police were able to track an IP address to a specific location, it would be incredibly challenging to locate, apprehend, and prosecute them due to a general lack of resources and the complexity of international law.
Types Of Craiglist Scam
- A user may be added to the Craigslist scammer list for a variety of posts. Knowing when to flag anything requires understanding them.
- Harassment: Stick to the transaction when communicating with Craigslist users. You should report harassing users to Craigslist.
- Requests for money transfers have always been dangerous, even before Craigslist. If cash is not sufficient, consider why.
- Overposting: Users who often post on the site run the risk of being included in the Craigslist scammer list. Members of Craigslist are asked to flag these ads.
- Requests for payment in advance: Craigslist advises against making payments before you have seen the seller in person. No matter how the payment is solicited if someone requests you to make a payment in advance, report it.
- Concerning Craigslist voicemails: Although there are no Craigslist voicemails, a well-known scam encourages users to listen to these fictitious messages. To report the request, use the Craigslist fraud reporting tools.
On Craigslist, how do I report a scam?
1. Directly flag listings on Craigslist or via email response
If you feel a Craigslist user you’re corresponding with is a scammer, you can flag their listing on Craigslist or their email reply from the email message you sent them.
2. Alert the FTC Using the Complaint Assistant
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission‘s complaint helper tool allows you to alert the organization about a scam, which aids in its ability to identify trends and patterns of fraud.
3. On econsumer.gov, report the scam.
Econsumer.gov is a project of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN), which has cooperated with more than 35 foreign consumer protection organizations. You may aid eConsumer.gov in identifying scam tendencies and putting a stop to them by reporting suspicious activity there.
4. Inform the Better Business Bureau about the scam.
You can submit a report via the Better Business Bureau‘s (BBB) form, which will aid the organization in its investigation and alert others to the scam. You’ll be asked for facts regarding the con artist, the con (including a text field where you may spell out the specifics), the victim, and yourself.
5. Internet Crime Complaint Center of the FBI: File a Complaint (IC3)
As a victim or on behalf of a victim, you can report internet crime to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
How to Avoid Craigslist Scams
It’s preferable if you steer clear of frauds from the start, even though alerting Craigslist scammers benefits other users. Use the options for reporting fraud on Craigslist and be vigilant to be protected. Some safety advice for using Craigslist is as follows:
- Meet in person: All transactions should be conducted in person with payments made in cash. If you are the buyer in a high-value transaction, ask the seller to come to meet you at your bank and deposit the money before you hand over the goods. You have protected against forgers thanks to this.
- Refuse to do business with outsiders: If you’re the seller, only work with the Craigslist user who contacted you about the item or who posted the ad.
- Refuse to make a blind purchase: No matter how much anything costs, you should never pay for it before checking it out. If you’re buying a car, think about taking it to a reputable mechanic so they can inspect it before you buy it. If taking this extra step helps you avoid purchasing a lemon, it will be well worth the work.
- Never give out your financial details: Never divulge your bank account details, Social Security number, or PayPal credentials.
- Refuse to consent to credit checks: Until you have met the individual you are dealing with in person, decline background and credit checks.
How to Reply to a Post on Craigslist
You need to reply to the post as soon as possible after finding the thing you want to buy or the flat you want to rent on Craigslist. Every listing on Craigslist has a response option that allows you to get in touch with the poster. Some Craigslist users put their contact details, like a phone number or email address, in the advertisement.
Many users, however, make use of an email address that was generated anonymously by Craigslist. The default choice is to use this two-way email relay because it protects both parties.
1. Use email
The email you submit is forwarded to the poster’s actual email address even though the address you see is email@example.com since Craigslist employs a two-way relay email address mechanism. Instead of your personal email address, the recipient will see one like firstname.lastname@example.org. However, the recipient may see the name you have listed because the true name field in your email program gets transmitted through to him. Use a different email address that does not include your name to prevent this, and make sure the real name area is left blank.
2. Quickly Respond
In order to have the best chance of finding a decent deal or an apartment, you need to get in touch with the seller right away. Include these in your initial email if you have any queries for the seller on the state of an item or specifics about an apartment. Either put your cover letter in the email’s body or attach it as a PDF to your CV if you are replying to a job posting. Since the poster probably receives a lot of emails, be courteous and succinct. He might also be running numerous listings, so be clear about the object, residence, or position. If the poster writes to you in response, reply back right away to prevent being ignored.
3. Contact Poster
Click Reply in the upper left corner of the classified ad you wish to react to bring up a window with response options and the poster’s preferred mode of contact. Use the Webmail links for Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, or AOL mail to reply or use your usual mail client. Copy and paste the address into your own email if you want to use a different email client. Contact the poster by email if that is how he prefers to be contacted, even if the ad included a phone number.
4. Price negotiation
You can haggle with the seller or landlord if you have done your own research on an item or flat and believe the asking price is excessive. Ask the poster if they would be open to a lower offer in your email. Never sign a lease for an apartment before visiting it. Set up a time to see the place where a companion may accompany you for protection.
Keep your personal information private when responding to emails. The poster has no justification for requesting your home address or personal or financial data. To be on the safe side, meet in a public place or bring a friend with you to the seller’s home.
5. Avoid Scam
Keep an eye out for scammers who target Craigslist users and use common sense. Deal locally and in person to steer clear of the majority of scams. Scammers frequently make ambiguous initial email inquiries or do not reside in the area. Do not accept cashier’s checks, certified checks, or money orders, or wire money. Never consent to ship, receive, or purchase anything without first inspecting it. For safety, always exercise common sense and meet in person, ideally with a friend or relative.