If you use Craigslist to buy or sell locally, then you know that you have to be careful. This popular site is prone to scams, and if you’re not paying attention, you could easily be tricked out of your hard-earned money or property.
Earlier this year we shared five major red flags to look for that can help you determine if it's a Craigslist scam. If you don't remember what they are, click here.
And now, there are three new scams with even more warning signs. We've rounded up the scams you need to know about so that you don’t become the next victim.
1. Hiring movers
You call around different moving companies and find one is more outrageously priced than the next. Not to mention those fuel charges! So where do you look for the best bargain? Nowadays the most optimal place is Craigslist.
Many of the ads you'll find are deceiving. They're posted by people who seem willing to devote their day to help you move for a fair price. But, in fact, scammers are using these ads to find just the right family to rip off all of their stuff.
That's what happened to one family in Douglas County, Georgia, but it's a warning for everyone. It started when they hired movers they saw on Craigslist.
The team consisted of two men and a U-Haul. The family had planned to follow the movers to their new home, but once they got to the freeway, the truck took off with all of their belongings inside.
Hours later, after arriving at their new house, there was still no sign of the movers. The family called the police. Here's the real kicker. Once police started investigating, they found the U-Haul abandoned and empty. These thieves managed to steal an entire family's belongings in a stolen truck.
Two days after the theft, a box was found on the side of the road that belonged to the family. It had very important documents inside, but the iPads and phones packed in that same box were gone. Nevertheless, the family was relieved to have that particular box back in their possession.
The estimated amount in losses is about $75,000. Police are still looking into the theft.
The lesson to be learned here? Sometimes it's worth the extra money to hire professionals or rent a U-Haul, gather some friends and move everything yourselves. You can make it worth their while and reward them with pizza and drinks afterwards.
2. Rental or home listings
In the market to buy or rent a place and feel Craigslist may produce the cheapest results? Careful. Sometimes if something sounds too good to be true, chances are it probably is. This can go both ways, someone searching for a place to live can be scammed, or someone who's a homeowner could be scammed and find out the hard way.
This happened to homeowner John Darr in New Albany, Indiana when shortly after listing his home for sale, he began noticing some suspicious activity. People were coming to his house and looking around the property. Some were even coming right up to his front porch, and peeking in through the windows.
He later realized what had happened. Scammers posted the details of his home as a rental opportunity on Craigslist. It was listed as a cozy three-bedroom, two-bathroom house for only $600 per month. And all the applicants had to do was send in their personal information, along with a security deposit.
However, Darr's home was not for rent. And, the listing to sell his home had been active for less than a week. He wasn't fully aware of what had happened until he received a strange message on Facebook.
"The message asked ... was I selling the house or was I renting the house? Because she had some concerns that somebody was running a scam with my name," Darr explained.
It was then that he became aware of the fraudulent post on Craigslist, which made several false claims. One of which was that the owners of the property were going to be leaving the country for three or four years on a mission trip. The scammer had even offered false contact information, and would correspond with interested applicants. Through this correspondence, the scammer was able to obtain personal information from the victims, and even make arrangements for money transfers.
This is scary not only for home owners, but also for people looking for a place to rent. If you're going to look for a place on Craigslist there are obvious signs to watch out for. If you find a property you're interested in, place the address into a Google search and see what results are generated. If the property pulls up on other sites listed for sale, then make note of that inconsistency. It's a red flag.
Another major clue is a rental property where you're unable to meet with the owner, or some type of property manager. If no one can meet you at the home for a tour, then there's probably something fishy about the listing in general. An extravagant story that explains why the owner will be away from the property is another sign. For a legitimate rental, you should never be asked to wire money to your new landlord, especially before you've had the chance to tour the property.
If you do find a property that you believe is listed as part of a scam, you can report it to law enforcement officials. You should also contact the website where you found the property so that the listing will be removed.
Ever find yourself in a situation where you're trying to get tickets for an upcoming show or conference right when they go on sale and something goes wrong? Either the website crashes or so many people were there before you that by the time you click to order them they're sold out? In an act of desperation, where do you turn?
Craigslist naturally, hoping you can come across a scalper, at this point you feel it's worth it to pay the extra markup.
But here's the thing - on Craigslist you're bound to find the worst kind of scalpers. In this scam, the tickets are not only sold for much more than they're worth, but in many cases the tickets themselves are counterfeits.
It happens because scammers have learned how to create convincing replicas of real tickets to popular events. These replicas can be difficult to spot, especially since they even include matching logos and watermarks. And, you probably won't realize you've purchased a fake ticket until it's too late. The scammers will be long gone, and you won't know until you try to attend the event, but are turned away at the gate.
Another way scammers use tickets to trick you is by purchasing real tickets, selling them on Craigslist, and then canceling them afterward. This again is something you probably won't realize has happened until you're denied access to the event you planned on attending.
In this particular scam, the tickets are typically listed far below market value. That's done deliberately. It makes you think you're getting an amazing deal, but really the scammers are just stealing your money.
To avoid scalping scams on Craigslist, the best thing to do is to purchase your tickets directly from the venue. You can also use reputable sites like Ticketmaster.com, which specialize in ticket sales and have better fraud prevention for customers.