Craigslist can be a great resource when it comes to finding inexpensive rentals, goods, and services, as well as selling your own stuff.
Unfortunately, not everyone who uses Craigslist is out there to deal fairly.
The truth is that there are plenty of scammers looking to make a quick buck off well-meaning people who just want a good deal.
Before you send money for something you see on Craigslist, stop and ask yourself whether or not you are looking at one of these common scams:
You can't believe your good luck. There is a rental in your price range for a great apartment. The pictures are cute, and the landlord is ready to make a deal, just to get someone in there. You call, and find out the place is still available. You get the security deposit together, and maybe even first and last month's rent. You pay the money, and are told that you can move in at the first of the month.
The problem is that once you go to move in, you discover that the “landlord” really didn't really own the place. Or that s/he collected money from several people, and someone else has already moved in. Perhaps you find out that the rental doesn't even exist. No matter the outcome, the landlord is gone, and so is your money.
Before you hand over money, make sure that the person claiming to be the landlord actually owns the property.
Most apartment buildings and condos have a management company you can go through, and not a landlord.
This can be especially disappointing, since the point of escrow is that you think your funds are safe. Whether you are buying a car, a TV, or some other big ticket item, you want to know that your money is safe. The seller may offer to set up an escrow account so that you can put your money in the account, and the funds aren't released until you actually get the item.
However, the scammer spoofs an email from the “escrow company.” Instead of transferring funds into a legitimate escrow account, you transfer them to the scammer. The scammer has your money, and you don't end up with anything. If you want to use escrow to complete a transaction, pick the company yourself, and you be in charge of setting it up.
In this economy, many of us are looking for work. You have to watch out, though. Job seekers are being targeted by scammers on Craigslist. These scams take many forms. From asking you to pay fees to start a job, to sending you a bad check to take care of a few things, these scams leave you on the hook — and without a job.
Another variation is one in which you are asked to complete a background check or credit check using a specific company. You go fill out the forms and maybe even pay for the check, but you don't ever get the job — and the scammer gets a commission.
Watch out for job scams on Craigslist. Never send money to start a job, and be wary of “employers” who send you a check and ask you to use the money to accomplish specific tasks.
What other Craigslist scams are lurking out there?