No one likes to be the victim of a scam but there are all kinds of financial scams out there so you have to be on your guard at all times. These days, people are getting so good at creating scams that appear to be legitimate that even those who are extremely cautious are being taken for a ride. In some cases, it’s difficult for virtually anyone to tell the difference between a legitimate deal that appears on Craigslist and a scam, even for law enforcement individuals. Below are five of the biggest Craigslist scams involving the Las Vegas area, along with links to each of the stories. If you read through them, it just might prevent you from becoming a victim yourself.
1. Scam involving “buying” used cars
This is a scam that has been going on for quite some time, and not just in Las Vegas or the surrounding area. In fact, criminals have hit multiple states with this exact type of activity. They actually search for ads on Craigslist that involve people trying to sell their automobiles. They then create what looks like a legitimate bank-issued check to pay for the cost of the automobile, coming out in person to pick up the car and the title. In return, they hand the seller the check. The problem is, when the seller goes to deposit or cash the check, they’re told that it’s a fake. By the time anyone tries to trace what the criminals are doing, they’re long gone. In short, you’re left with no car and no money. The so-called checks are virtually untraceable because they don’t come from any actual financial institution. When it’s all said and done, the criminals get away with your automobile and your title, and there’s little if anything you can do to retrieve it.
2. Renting out homes that have been foreclosed
This is one that has affected many people in and around Las Vegas. Scammers take ads out on Craigslist advertising homes for rent, demanding cash up front. The problem is, they don’t own the homes they’re supposedly renting out. Instead, they’re breaking into homes that have been foreclosed on by the bank and are standing vacant. They claim they own the home, get you as their renter to pay them a large sum of money in cash before you move in, and then split with the money. You don’t suspect that anything is wrong until the bank finds out someone is living in the house and comes to evict you.
3. “Renting out someone else’s property
This scam is similar to the one listed above, yet it doesn’t deal with homes that have been foreclosed on. Believe it or not, people have been going around the Las Vegas area looking for homes that are legitimately for rent. They then break into the house, rekey the locks and put an ad on Craigslist stating that the house is for rent and belongs to them. They usually say they live in a different state and set up a day where everyone can simply punch in an access code and get a key out of the lock box so they can go look at the property for themselves. They then email a contract to virtually every person that responded and say that they have been accepted to live in the home, provided they pay the first and last month’s rent in cash before they move in. They specify a certain bank account number that the money must be wired to. People send the money and then when they go to move into the house, they find that the locks have been changed back, they can’t get in, and they have sent all their money to someone that can’t be tracked down.
4. Being paid for a fake job
Another popular scam that shows up on the site quite frequently involves someone stating they have a job available the pays fairly well. For anyone that responds to this ad, a bogus check is issued in their name and they’re told to deposit the check into their own bank account and then withdraw a portion of that money to pay for work expenses. The problem is, the check isn’t good to begin with. Therefore, anyone that deposits it and then immediately withdraws the money for supposed work expenses is using their own money. By the time they figure out that the check is bogus, that money has already been wired to the specified account and they’re on the hook for every bit of it.
5. Buying a stolen vehicle
This one also involves scamming people when they try to buy a vehicle. Someone steals a vehicle and then prints what looks like a legitimate title, only it isn’t. They then put a vehicle up for sale on Craigslist, demanding that the buyer pay in cash. Once they get the money, they hand over vehicle but when the buyer goes to register that car, they discover that it’s been stolen. They are then forced to surrender the vehicle to the rightful owners and they can virtually count on never seeing that money again.