Scammers from all around the world have discovered that they can make a quick shady buck by taking advantage of innocent consumers, looking for a good deal on Craigslist. The number of money related scams are increasing daily. People using the site to find a rental, buy or sell a car, or find a new job are all at risk for becoming victims of one type of scam or another. The Craigslist Denver region has been no exception. We found 5 dastardly scams that you need to watch out for in the listings for this Rocky Mountain city, as reported by the victims, the media and local law enforcement who have about had enough.
1. Craigslist Denver PayPal Scams
PayPal is a legitimate resource that guards customer information very well, but they are not immune to crooks using their services to rip people off. In October of 2014, a new scam was reported by the Denver Police Department. Suspects were contacting sellers on Craigslist by email and telling them that they want to purchase the items they have for sale. Next, they inform the sellers that they have sent too much money to their PayPal account and ask for a refund via a wire transfer to a third party that is out of state. After sellers send the money, they learn that the PayPal account was a phony and there were never any funds sent. This makes it difficult for honest buyers and sellers to know who to trust when entering into negotiations for a purchase or a sale using PayPal or other similar payment methods. The rule of thumb for staying safe is to question any activities that seem to be unusual and refuse to give out your personal information. Nobody that's legit is going to send you an over-payment then ask for a refund.
2. Denver car selling scam
In October of 2016, a new scam on Craigslist Denver was identified. Scammers were posing as locals and placing advertisements for cars for sale. They were crafty and included plenty of pictures along with detailed information, along with phone numbers that appeared to be from the Denver area. Damian Martin had just turned 16 and gotten his driver's license and was looking for a car to buy. As he was reviewing the postings, he said that something didn't seem right. There seemed to be a lot of duplicate ads with the same details down to the mileage numbers and the model years, but they had different pictures. He became frustrated because in their search, all they found were scams and no honest postings of cars for sale. The deals seemed too good to be true, which raised serious red flags. They followed through and contacted the sellers, who insisted that they couldn't talk on the phone and demanded email contact only. The sellers emailed them and claimed to be from out of state, even though the phone numbers provided looked like Denver numbers. The sellers insisted on having the money for the vehicle sent through eBay and promised to ship the vehicle afterwards. This is becoming more common and while most buyers avoid these scams, some fall for it, send the payment and never see the car.
3. Quibids scam
In 2015 a Quibids money scam appeared on Craigslist Denver. A scammer claims to have a phone for sale, but when they're contacted, they say they've already sold it through Quibids, and they refer the potential buyer to a site where they claim to have purchased and resold 3 phones as a bait to lure them into the scam. They even send pictures along with descriptions of the phones. The scammers help to connect them with the actual auction listings on the site, where they will bid on the phones and never win them. When Craigslist becomes aware of these scam posts, they flag and remove them.
4. Con artists pose as pastor to steal money from Aurora victims in fake rental posting
The FBI was contacted about a new scam happening in the Denver area as well as across the country. A home is listed for sale in Aurora, Colorado and it's advertised in a Craigslist post. In order to prey on the faith of innocent victims, the scammer claims to be a pastor and the home is listed for sale for a mere $400. They are using pictures and information from a home that is actually listed for sale.
The Craigslist ad lists an Aurora home for rent for only $400 and the scammer poses as a pastor to prey on people's faith. The real homeowner was not aware that the home they listed was being used to scam people out of money for rent on a place that wasn't available. The scammers posted amenities that the home did not actually have in a contrived listing that used real photos of the home. The scammer even goes so far as to explain that the real estate agent has not yet removed her sign and even uses her real name. A lot of research has gone into this rental scam. They tell prospective renters not to contact the realtor because she cannot be trusted and that they want to rent it out themselves to keep her out of it. The con artists are not aware that Shawn Kelley is actually a man and not a woman. The scammer claims to be a pastor to gain the trust of potential victims. They went over the top on this one, using the Facebook photo and information from a real pastor named Dave Heckler who lives in Pennsylvania.
5. Woman worked for a fake rental scam company unaware
A woman from Parker, Colorado reported that she worked for a rental company that was developed by her sister in law, charging $350 to secure a rental. The scam was contrived by Ilissa Nelsen, according to Julie Jacobs who helped in the scheme. The name of the company that is stealing money from victims changes frequently and has posted ads under the names Rental Specialists, Global Relocation, Universal Rentals, Nationwide Rentals and Across Town Rentals.
The posts advertised the rentals and required a $350 holding fee and when customers couldn't get anywhere with the rental agency, they sought a refund, but the phony business would disappear. The case has currently being investigated by the Attorney General's Office.
A Guide to Using Craigslist Denver the Right Way
People who live in the Denver, Colorado area have been using Craigslist Denver successfully for decades, but there are also those who have lost everything that they own in terrible scams. Not everyone who buys or sells on the site is honest. It can be difficult to tell the scammers from genuine people. We've prepared a guide for using Craigslist Denver to give you more information about the site and to tell you how you can use the site without becoming the victim of a crime.
What is Craigslist Denver?
Craigslist Denver is an online classified ads site. You can post items that you have for sale for free in most cases and if you just want to look around the site, you don't have to register or sign up. The website provides classified sections like you would see in a newspaper to make it easier to find specific items that you are looking for. For example, they offer homes for rent, pets for adoption, cars and trucks for sale and more.
What can you find on Craigslist Denver?
You can find vehicles for sale, appliances, electronics, furniture, pets, livestock, farm equipment, books, event tickets and much more. They even have a section for people who are looking for job opportunities. If it's being offered for sale, most items are eligible for listing on Craigslist.
Is Craigslist safe to use?
The answer to this question is yes and no. It's safe if you're aware of the potential dangers and it's not safe if you don't. Children should not be allowed to use the site on their own because although staff monitors the ads, there are some which are explicit and not suitable for underage viewing. There is a personals section on the site.
As a buyer or a seller, you must be aware of the fact that there are a lot of phony ads posted on the site. Although there are very few reports of violent crimes occurring in the Denver area from Craigslist use, it can and does happen, although not often. There is always a potential for danger when dealing with strangers. The best practice is to not meet with a stranger alone at their home or in a secluded place.
Are there any guarantees?
Craigslist does not provide buyer or seller protection guarantees. You are using the site at your own risk. The best course of action to take if you are dealing with an ad that involves a business making claims is to investigate them with the Better Business Bureau and attempt to verify their legitimacy and online reviews if possible.
Common scams in the area
The most common scams reported for Craigslist Denver involve property scams. Con artist list homes for vacation rentals or for monthly home rentals which they do not own or have the right to rent out. They steal photos and detailed information about homes that are listed for sale on other sites. Some of them even assume the identity of the property managers or realtors who are legitimately handling the home. They have one thing in common. Most will not speak on the phone, although some will. They insist on having a rental application completed online and they tell you to drive by the address to view the rental. If you like it they'll rent it to you. They tell you to disregard the "for sale" sign in the yard. You're required to send the rent and deposit money by western union or some other type of wire or online funds transfer and they make excuses why they cannot meet with you face to face, instead promising to mail the keys overnight once the funds are received. They stop all contact once you send the money. Vacation rentals are the most common type of rental scam in the area because most victims are from out of the area and they have little choice but to do their dealings online.
Fake check scams are also common in the area. Denver people who respond to help wanted ads have been duped by unscrupulous employers who tell them a part of their duties is to deposit money orders and cashier checks. They are instructed to put the checks into their personal bank accounts, keep their salaries and then wire the remaining balance of the funds to other locations. A few days after the checks and money orders are deposited, their bank notifies them that they are fake and that they are responsible for paying back every penny including fees.
A third type of scam that involves fake checks is aimed at sellers. A scammer calls showing interest in an item that is for sale on Craigslist and makes arrangements to send a cashier's check. When the check arrives it is for far more than the agreed upon price. They tell the seller to deposit the check, keep their money for the item plus a little extra for their troubles and then wire the rest to a shipper who will pick up the item and transport it. The fake shipper is a part of the scam and as in the other scenario, the check doesn't clear the bank and the seller must make good on the bad check plus fees.
Craigslist Denver is still a good resource for both buyers and sellers. As long as you're aware of the dangers and you understand the signs that indicate you might be dealing with a scammer, you can enjoy some great mutually satisfying transactions. Take every possible precaution when dealing with strangers and if someone isn't willing to meet with you face to face or in a public place, it's a good idea to pass on the deal.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker