It does not seem that long ago that Craigslist was all the rave. It was the go-to place to buy and sell everything under the sun. Craigslist is still one of the best places to go for good deals on everything from electronics to cars. Unfortunately, it is also fertile ground for criminal activity — everything from robbery to murder. The largest percentage on Craigslist has to do with some form of money scam. In order to help those who still want to use the site for business and sales transactions, we decided to compile a list of five money scams that you should watch out for on Craigslist. Since Craigslist creates unique pages for each major city, we will be focusing on the Craigslist page for Mobile, Alabama and surrounding areas.
1. The Overpay Scam
The overpay scam is actually very common. When someone posts an item for sale, generally a high-ticket item like a car, a person will contact them and say that they want to buy it and that they will send a check for the payment. However, the check is always for more than the price of the item. They then request that the extra is wired back to them or deposited into a certain account. The problem is that the original check was not good, but by the time the seller finds out they have already sent money to the scammer. In this case, the seller was smart and gave the scammer the address to the police department.
2. Rental Home Scam
There are all types of real estate money scams that take place. One of the most common scams on Craigslist is the rental home scam. In this type of scam, the criminals identify a home that is for rent and vacant and they list them on Craigslist. These scammers do not own or have the authority to rent them. Unfortunately, they are often able to convince potential tenants to wire them money for application fees and deposits. There have been cases where some tenants were actually moved into the property. It is not clear how the scammers gain access to the home, but they literally transfer the access to the property, which is pretty bold.
3. Mugging or Physical Assault
While many of the money scams and ruses on Craigslist are becoming more sophisticated, there are still those who take the very primitive approach of luring people to certain locations and then mugging them or robbing them at gunpoint. Authorities are warning potential buyers to make sure that they are the one who suggests the location and to ensure that the location is densely populated at the time of the transaction.
4. Fake or Canceled Tickets
Selling fake or canceled tickets is one of the most common scams on Facebook. The transactions usually take less than five minutes to complete, which not nearly enough time confirm that the tickets are real or still valid. These criminals have become good at creating tickets that look real, but will not scan at the event that they are supposedly for. By the time that the buyer realizes that they have purchased a fake ticket, the seller is long gone with there hard earned cash. It is simply better to buy tickets from a known and reputable ticket agent. These types of scams have become increasingly sophisticated over the last several years.
5. Money Transfer Scam
The money transfer scam is very common on Craigslist. It seems the transfer service that these scammers prefer is MoneyGram. It appears that their protocol is less stringent than Western Union. The U.S. Postal issues checks totaling millions of dollars to people who have been victimized by these types of scam. The will tell you a number of different lies to get you to wire money including:
- Someone is in trouble and needs your help
- You won a prize but you have to pay the taxes
- You qualify for a loan even if you have bad credit, but there is a small fee that you must pay in advance.
No matter what they tell you, the ultimate goal is to get you to send them money via MoneyGram — money that you will never see again. MoneyGram has agreed to enhance their security protocol over recent years, but game is still being played at a very frequent pace.