There seems to be no end to the number of scam listings that are posted on Craigslist. We turned our focus to the Craigslist Portland, to find out how the Pacific Northwest has been impacted by scam artists. We were not surprised to discover that it was easy to find several money scams in a short amount of time. Here are five reported cases from Craigslist Portland that may help you to know what to look for when trying to avoid getting ripped off by a con-artist.
1. Craigslist Portland hoax scam
Robert Salisbury of Jacksonville, Oregon lost nearly everything he owned because of a hoax/prank/scam that was listed on Craigslist for the Portland, Oregon area. Scammers posted ads that alerted all readers that the resident was forced to leave town in a hurry, and that everything in the residence was free to the public on a first come first served basis. This was something that Salisbury was not privy to. He was on his way home one day when he saw a large truck passing by with items from his home loaded in the back. He flagged them down to find out what was going on and they showed him the ad and refused to return the items. When he got home, there were 30 people going through his possessions and taking his belongings. He called the police who made the scavengers leave, but by that time, he had lost many of his possessions.
2. Fake Best Buy Employee guilty of Craigslist Portland scam
In April of 2011, a Portland man was arrested for running a scam on Craigslist. Jeremy Shawn Williams listed an HP laptop for $200 in March. Williams used a fake name and even made a best buy name tag with the made up name on it, claiming to work for the store. He met the victim of his scam at a public location and exchanged the official looking sealed laptop box, advertised as brand new for the cash. After making the deal "Nick" (Williams) disappeared with the cash and when the victim opened the box he found that there was only a book inside. Williams perpetuated similar scams and was caught and arrested. He was charged with forgery, computer crimes, identity theft, possession of methamphetamine, hydrocodone and heroin.
3. Rental home scam in Portland
The Oregonian reported about a scam that involves rental home listings in the Portland area. Scammers are going through actual home listings and cloning the information so there is a real address associated with their scam ads, except, they change the contact information and set up phony payments that are difficult to trace. They even go so far as to have potential renters fill out fraudulent applications and sending them deposits. They claim to be owners living in a Southern state and offer the home negotiations in an online format, to lessen the chances of being caught. Don't be taken in by these scams because they list the actual information listed from previous legitimate home rental posts, but if you cut the deal, you're going to lose every penny that you send them.
4. Fake Car sale scam in Beaverton, Oregon
In 2013, a Beaverton, Oregon man went to the police and told them about a car scam that cost him thousands of dollars. He found a listing for a 2006 Volkwagen Jetta offered for $5,000. The seller agreed to let him have it for $3,500, and after he gave him the cash, the man handed him the title and made arrangements to retrieve his purchase. The seller was supposed to return with the car, but he disappeared. Upon inspection, it was determined that the title was a phony and the driver's license that the seller offered as proof of identity was stolen from a Vancouver locker room. As of the date that this story was first reported, the suspect had not yet been apprehended.
5. Craigslist Portland, West Linn rental scam
This is one of the boldest craigslist rental scams we've seen. The incident occurred in 2012. Scammers advertised a West Linn woman's home for rent on Craigslist Portland. When Sara Zachary found the deal for the 3,800 square foot home on 1-1/4 acres for $1,250 per month, she followed up. She emailed the scammer and became alarmed by the response. It directed her to view the house from the outside and even told her to ignore a real estate agent sign posted in the yard. The email instructed her not to contact them. The scammer also asked her to respond with the answer to a series of personal questions in order to process the legal documents and forward the keys. The email was signed, Cindy Nicholson, the name of the homeowner. Sensing this was a scam, Zachary called the police and it was determined that the ad was a scam. The home was actually listed for sale by the owner and was not up for rent.
In order to avoid being scammed on Craigslist Portand below you'll find a handy guide on how to use the service in the right way If you're interested in finding the site online, the internet address is portland.craigslist.org. The services offered by the site are currently free of charge.
How to use Craigslist
If you want to view ads on the site you don't even have to register or sign up, but if you want to contact someone who has placed an ad or to place an ad yourself, all you need to do is sign up and it's totally free.
What can I find on Craigslist
There is a variety of listings on the classified ads site. They are separated into categories including apartments and rooms for rent, pets for adoption, services offered, personal ads, things for sale, job postings, lost and found, discussion forums and there are also other categories.
Is Craigslist safe to use?
The short answer is no. Craigslist is overflowing with scam ads which are mixed in with the legitimate postings. There are staffers who monitor the posts but they can't catch everything and it's not a site that you want to allow your children to visit on their own because there are some explicit advertisements on the site. In addition, the BBB lists all businesses who are members with them and if someone makes a false claim of membership you'll know that they're not safe to deal with.
Any time you are using an online site to buy or sell items, you are exposing yourself to honest as well as dishonest people. There have been some violent crimes associated with Craigslist ads in the past but these are very few. Still, you should avoid meeting with a stranger in their homes alone or in a location that is secluded or out of the eye of the public for safety sake. The majority of complaints registered involve scam rental ads, check frauds and sellers collecting money and not sending items they promised to ship.
Before using Craigslist Portland, you should consult with your local chapter of the Better Business Bureau. You'll find that they've listed current and previous scams on the site from locals who have become victims of fraudulent activity on the site. They can give you insights on a business if you know the name and let you know if there have been any reports of unethical or unscrupulous business activities reported.
When you deal with online ads there are no product or service guarantees. Craigslist is not responsible for any damage that is sustained from using the site. This is very much a situation where you must use your best judgement and avoid taking any unnecessary risks.
The three most common scams occurring on Craigslist Portland are home rental scams, scalping scams and hiring movers. Cons steal pictures and details about homes that are listed for sale by realtors on other sites and use the information to post a phony home rental ad. They collect personal information on the rental application for identity theft and they make up an excuse why they can't meet with the renter in person. All financial transactions for payment of the rent and deposit are done through western union or other wire transfer. After the money is received, all contact stops. When renters show up to move into the new home they discover that it is not really for rent and if they were mailed keys, they don't work in the locks.
There are also numerous scalping scams. Event tickets are offered for sale on the site at a discounted price. They look legitimate but when the victims try to use them to gain entry to a venue they are told that the tickets are invalid. The number has either already been used or the tickets are counterfeit. The third most common scam is the home mover scam. Con artists place ads offering to move people from one home to another. After they gain access to personal items, they deliver some of them but steal items of value that they can sell on the black market. It pays to verify that a business is legitimate before trusting them with your personal possessions or items of value. You cannot be too careful when you are dealing with strangers and when your money and your safety is involved.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker