You are here

Craigslist Scams

Craigslist Scams

Craigslist is the most popular site on the internet that provides local classifieds and forums for jobs, housing, for sale, personals, services, local community, and events.

The popularity of Craigslist has also made it a common place for scammers to perform their fraudulent activities.

Recognizing Craigslist scams

According to, most scams involve one or more of the following:

  • Inquiry from someone far away, often in another country 
  • Western Union, Money Gram, cashier's check, money order, shipping, escrow service, or a "guarantee" 
  • Inability or refusal to meet face-to-face before consumating transaction

Examples of Scams

  1. Someone claims that craigslist will guarantee a transaction, certify a buyer/seller, OR claims that craigslist will handle or provide protection for a payment.
  2.  Distant person offers a genuine-looking (but fake) cashier's check
  3. Someone requests wire service payment via Western Union or MoneyGram:
  4. Distant person offers to send you a money order and then have you wire money:
  5.  Distant seller suggests use of an online escrow service.
  6.  Distant seller asks for a partial payment upfront, after which he will ship goods
  7.  Foreign company offers you a job receiving payments from customers, then wiring funds

Craigslist provides the following advice on avoiding scams to anyone using their service:

  • Trust your instincts 
  • Deal only with local buyers and sellers 
  • Never wire funds to a distant buyer, via Western Union or any other carrier
  • Be wary if the other party wants to use an escrow service such as BidPay, Squaretrade, or even PayPal
  • Never give out personal financial information (eBay or PayPal info, checking account number, SSN, etc.)
  • Aways remember the most important rule - Buyer Beware

Common Scams on Craigslist

  • The most common scams on Craigslist are Job Scams, Craigslist Nigerian Scams, Apartmental/Rental Scams, Counterfeit Cashier's Check Scams, Car Scams etc..
  • Craigslist Apartment Rental Scams--Typically, the scam/fraud starts when a fraudster pretending to be the owner of the property, posts a great deal on an apartment and a person responds. They ask you to make a deposit and/or collect some personal information to be sent via email and then disappear.
  • Craigslist Car Scams--Buying and selling cars on Craigslist can be a huge money-saver for both the buyer as well as the seller. Due to this, the Auto category in Craigslist's For Sale section is very active, especially in urban areas.
  • Fraudulent postings are common on craigslist. Stolen checks, counterfeit checks and bounced checks are costing people their money, cars or both.
  • Counterfeit Cashier's Check Scams--An interested party located outside the United States contacts a seller. The seller is told that the buyer has an associate in the United States that owes him money. As such, he will let the associate send the seller a cashier's check for the amount owed to the buyer. The amount of the cashier's check will be more than the original price of the merchandise and the seller is told the excess amount will be used to pay the shipping costs associated with getting the merchandise to his location. The seller is instructed to deposit the check, and as soon as it clears, to wire the excess funds back to the buyer. Because a cashier's check is used, a bank will release the funds as early as possible. Believing that the check has cleared, the seller wires the money as instructed.
  • Craigslist job scams--Craigslist has a huge classified listing for job seekers, some legitimate and others are scams. Fraudsters have a couple of ways to trap job seekers. One way is by using your resume and the other is personal information contained in your resume . The fraudster can use these information for any of the wrong reasons.
  • Craigslist Escrow Service Scams--First, a fraudster creates a listing on Craigslist for something valuable, often at a bargain price. Potential buyers responding to the posting will want to know how the transaction will be handled. Responders are told that the transaction will be handled by an escrow service as it is trustworthy.

The escrow service will have an official-sounding name and a professional-looking website for you to visit. You may then send them your money and the seller is never seen again. This has happened to many people purchasing expensive items on Craigslist.

How to Prevent/Avoid Craigslist Scams

  1. Search and browse for product listings within your own city or state limits. This will give you and the seller the opportunity to meet in person and avoid conflicts. 
  2. Avoid transactions that involves anyone from outside US. Do not entertain anyone from UK, Africa , from long distances or who would insist on having you wire funds via money order, cashier's check, Western Union or any other carrier methods. 
  3. Never post your resume on Craigslist - As Craigslist is free to everyone, anyone can use your personal information for wrong things. 
  4. Don't accept checks or money orders from anyone - If you plan to sell something on Craigslist, be sure to list your posting as a cash only transaction, even if the item is worth a lot of money. 
  5. Personal credentials such as social security numbers , credit card and bank account numbers should not be given out without confirmation. Care should be taken because this information can be used for fraudulent activities. 
  6. Check out for grammar used in classified listing as many scams originate from non-English speaking countries mainly from Nigeria who rarely use English as a means of communication. 
  7. Do not purchase items/products that have no pictures of the particular product. Ask the seller to provide some to help with your decision to buy. 
  8.  Get familiar with different types of Craigslist scams so that you will learn to recognize scams.

 How WeGoLook onsite verification services can help you:

  • WeGoLook is an independent third-party verification services company that assists with avoiding fraudulent purchases.
  • WeGoLook will provide visual confirmation and a personalized report, completed by a real person, to verify an item, property, or person anywhere in the USA.
  • Over 10,000 (background check verified) Lookers will travel in person within the US and verify the condition of your property/products by completing a personalized report including current photos, video and more.
  • WeGoLook customers are better informed, avoid costly surprises, plus benefit from unbiased confirmation without having to travel. 
  • WeGoLook will also deliver the verified item to a shipper in order to avoid "Bait-and-Switch" fraud and even arrange transportation for larger items, such as autos and boats, while a "Looker" verifies the valid vehicle/item is loaded for transportation.
  • Buyers can simply review the report for information.