One of the biggest challenges for the craigslist community is weeding out scam artists. The site has a section describing common scam tactics and what users should do if they come across them. Scams might involve fake money orders or checks, bait-and-switch schemes (in which you think you're getting one thing but end up with another), phishing schemes designed to obtain personal information, identity theft schemes and other unethical and illegal activities.
One scam that has popped up in several craigslist communities involves a buyer overpaying for an item. In this scam, an innocent seller advertises an item on craigslist for a given amount -- say $1,500. An interested buyer contacts the seller and says he'll send a check for the item, but when the check arrives, it's written for a much larger amount. When the seller contacts the buyer to inform him of the difference, the buyer apologizes and explains that he wrote the wrong amount after confusing it with another purchase. He tells the seller to deposit the check and wire him the difference. What the seller doesn't know is that the check is a fake, so he cashes it and wires the difference to the buyer. Once the bank researches the check and discovers it's a fake, the seller is held responsible. The scam artist has his money, and the innocent seller takes the blame.
Police scan craigslist for ads soliciting illegal goods or services. Newspapers have featured several stories about cops busting prostitution rings after finding them through craigslist. Papers have also published stories about police using craigslist to find sexual predators. In October 2007, craigslist made headlines after a member posted an ad for a babysitter and then killed the young woman who responded to the ad. In craigslist's defense, Buckmaster has said that newspapers are more likely to report negative stories about the site, possibly because some business managers feel craigslist robs papers of revenue [source: The New York Times, Associated Press].
To learn more about craigslist and other topics, follow the links below.
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- "Craigslist, Scourge of Newspaper Classifieds, Now Turns to Journalism." Associated Press. May 6, 2005. http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000912168
- "Minn. Craigslist Nanny Ad Results in Murder." sfist.com. October 29, 2007. http://sfist.com/2007/10/29/craigslist_nann.php
- "Police: Online ad led to prostitution charges." Chicago Tribune. October 26, 2007. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-prostitutionoct26,0,3914046.story?coll=chi-entertainment-front
- "Woman Bounces Alleged Check Scam." Fox 12 News. October 29, 2007. http://www.kptv.com/news/14447013/detail.html
- Craigslist.org http://www.craigslist.org
- Del Conte, Natali T. "Craigslist, Online Shopping Attracts Seniors." PC Magazine.com. October 20, 2007. http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2704,2203868,00.asp
- Dubner, Stephen J. "Here Are the Answers to Your Craigslist Questions. "The New York Times. October 10, 2007. http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/10/here-are-the-answers-to-your-craigslist-questions/
- Forliti, Amy. "Teen Charged in Craigslist Killing." Associated Press. October 30, 2007. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2007/10/28/national/a100519D51.DTL
- Hanley, Matt. "Caught on Craigslist." The Beacon News. October 26, 2007. http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/beaconnews/news/621495,2_1_AU26_PROSTITUTE_S1.article
- Hempel, Jessi. "A Talk with craigslist's Keeper." Business Week. September 8, 2004. http://www.craigslist.org/about/press/craigslist.keeper.html
- Lynn, Adam. "Charges filed in Craigslist house pillaging." The News Tribune. May 17, 2007. http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/crime/story/64236.html
- Reeve, Laura. "Revenge is a dish best served on Craigslist." Daily Trojan. October 17, 2007. http://media.www.dailytrojan.com/media/storage/paper679/news/2007/10/17/Opinion/Revenge.Is.A.Dish.Best.Served.On.Craigslist-3036321.shtml