Craigslist: Chances are if you’re a human bean, the name will fire some synapses in your gray matter. It’s bound to since Craigslist is the largest classified ads site, and for some reason has largely been left unmolested by advertising. Perhaps, you liken Craigslist to playing Russian roulette: on the one hand you might get incredibly lucky, and on the other very bad things could happen.
When someone has something to sell, or is searching for a job, car, or perhaps even an escort, chances are one of the first places they will look is craigslist. With its complete focus on doing one thing, and one thing only, which is running classified ads, Craigslist is the logical starting point. In case you’re wondering the site gets approximately 50 MILLION visitors every month.
More than likely, though, memories of one infamous fiasco or another from the news will also come to mind. This largely involves scams. A major focus of these scams is identity theft. Ironically this often revolves around convincing victims to surrender personal details for conducting a pre-employment background check or to set up direct deposit. Many of these are well documented, which can help others avoid becoming a victim.
However, there are also a number of other types of scams on Craigslist which you probably already know about, but I’ll give you a refresher course anyway.
- Use Good, Old Fashioned Human Skepticism When Selling Your Treasures
This one is as old as the books, but one poor sucker after another falls for it. Let’s say your new, or old, wife has given you an ultimatum to sell the fugly old couch you’ve had since college. The thing is nasty and who knows what took place on the brown micro fiber. Anyway, you decide to toss it on Craigslist, because who knows, you might end up getting someone to burn it for you. The next day you check your email, and WHOA, someone has already offered to buy the couch. Best of all, they’re going to be sending a check since “they’re too far away to come over.”
Well, the check you’re going to get will more than likely be made out for a larger amount than you asked for, and the buyer will ask you to send the extra back to them. You’ll probably cash the check, and being a person of morally sound nature, you’ll immediately forward money back via FedEx overnight mail with an armed escort. Here’s the kicker. The check was more than likely fake, and you just got royally screwed because the bank is going to hold you responsible for the money. One guy even found himself in jail because of such a scam. Basically, if you get a check in the mail for an item, tear it up and move on with your life. I would advise you to only deal with local people when selling items on Craigslist, and my definition of local is within a 1.5 hour radius of my house.
- The Economy Stinks and You Really Need Work
I won’t lie…I’ve almost been sucked into a couple of Craigslist job scams in the past. These are the real bad boys…and you may found your identity has been stolen, and the police beating down the door for robbing a bank. Job scams used to be easy to spot, but lately the scammers have actually become a whole lot slicker about how they present the job.
You probably won’t find exorbitant salaries being offered, but more likely wages that are on the high end of the spectrum. Scams are often not immediately obvious, and many an intelligent person has submitted a cover letter, resume, name, address, phone number, etc. with the hopes of turning their life around, only to find themselves hip-deep in trouble.
Some scams will even be complex enough that you’ll be asked for your Social Security Number for employment screening purposes, or maybe even an account number for direct deposit. Never give any employer your SSN unless you do so in person. Personally, I think direct deposit is a bad idea all around simply because it provides additional outside access to your bank account.
Also, if you’re asked to pay anything whatsoever, for any reason whatsoever, send a polite email telling them to F#$@ off, and move on with your life. A little tip: always use a disposable email address when responding to any Craigslist job posting or ad.
Moral of the story: Trust your gut, and I mean trust that bugger, because 99% of the time your suspicions are going to be spot on. Question higher wages, telecommuting, the lack of a job interview, and any website where the company behind it isn’t easily verifiable.
- You Really Think it’s Free?
There is a lot of stuff being given away on Craigslist simply because “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” However, there have been incidents where someone exacted revenge on another individual by posting that everything in their house was free for taking. My advice is not to trust anything being given away on Craigslist unless you carry out due diligence. Reason being, you may be accepting stolen property or some other form of nastiness such as bed bugs.
Be aware: anyone found in possession of stolen items may be subject to criminal prosecution, and instigating such a dastardly deed on Craigslist can bring on charges of burglary, criminal impersonation, and malicious mischief, among others.
Moral of the story: Try not to piss off too many people; especially those that you know have a nasty streak. Also, keep a pump action shotgun in the house filled with rock salt for those times. As always, make sure it’s in a locked safe where children cannot access it.
- Craigslist is Not Your Local Animal Shelter
There are so many animal adoption scams on Craigslist, the CDC had to issue their own press release on the issue. On their website they state: “CDC does not quarantine dogs, nor does it require a fee to bring them into the country.” In plain English; don’t pay anyone outside the country a nickel for any kind of animal being advertised on Craigslist.
The other type of pet scam involves “adopting” pets and then selling them on Craigslist. Basically, the scammers will either go to their local animal shelter or Craigslist to locate an animal to adopt. After securing the poor thing, the unscrupulous individual(s) will sell it on Craigslist, either outright or by charging an “adoption fee.”
Tips: Don’t meet in a parking lot or other questionable location, but instead insist that you meet at a veterinary clinic and that they should bring all papers necessary to prove the age, breed, and health of the animal.
Good luck in your Craigslist endeavors.