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.
A Guide to Using Craigslist Las Vegas The Right Way
You might know the show Pawn Stars and how popular it has become as a place where bargains and treasures are bought and sold on a regular basis. This show takes place in Las Vegas, demonstrating that much more than gambling takes place in Sin City. This makes the environment perfect for a site like Craigslist. No matter if you live in Vegas or are just visiting to catch a few shows, there are many things being bought and sold over the Internet right around you every day of the year. You might be looking to buy something in particular, or you might just be browsing. In the end, you might need to make some cash and you have a few things to sell. Craigslist is ideal to do all of these things, and it is entirely free.
Not everything in Vegas needs to be bought brand new in a store. In fact, you remember that saying that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. This is the premise that Craiglist is founded on. People can advertise just about anything for sale on the site. You can go online at any time and discover things that you never even knew existed. The site is organized by type of merchandise, making it easy to find what you are looking for. On Craigslist, you can put tangible goods up for sale or you can advertise services. As long as it is legal, you may very well find a market here.
To use Craigslist as a way to sell things in Las Vegas, you will need an official email address. This is how the site confirms who you are and can get in contact with you if there is a problem with your posting. You will just write up the add, include your contact details, and then submit it to the site for approval. That process usually does not take very long. However, you will want to check your email not long after submitting a posting just in case the administrator has a question that needs to be answered before your posting is approved. Once approved, the public at large will see what you have to offer and you might just get the offer that you were looking for. Of course, all of this is free. If you are just looking for something to buy on the site, that is free as well and there is no registration required.
Be Clear In What You Post
Part of being successful as a seller on Craigslist is to be clear about what you have to sell. This is also part of being safe online. If you are looking at an ad that sounds way too good to be true, then a red flag should go up in your mind. You should keep that same principle in mind if you are making your own post. People want you to be clear about what you have to offer. Do not beat around the bush. This is also where pictures can come in handy. Take a photo of every possible angle, even those that are less than flattering. If you represent your product well, you will be much better received in the end when you go to meet a prospective customer.
The Pricing Point is Key
Price is everything on Craigslist Las Vegas. Be careful here. If you see a car advertised for $100, why would you email about it? There have been reports of emails being hacked and personal information stolen as the result of answering fraudulent ads. Stay away from them. At the same time, if you are a legitimate seller, then you have nothing to worry about. Just make sure you ask for a price that is commensurate with the condition of the product you are selling. Keep in mind that customers can always bargain on the price with you, which is one of the nice features of Craigslist Las Vegas.
Remember to Be Safe
When you go to meet someone from Craigslist Las Vegas, try to schedule it for a public place. There are tons of locations across Vegas that are ideal for this. You can meet in a mall, at a coffee shop, or even a casino if you so desire. The key is to remain safe. Some products require a visit to the home. If you are the seller, keep your door open and try to have someone in the house with you. Do not have people come over at night. This same advice applies if you are a prospective buyer as well. If something does not feel right, stay away.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker