Avoiding Scams

Deal locally, face-to-face —follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts.

  • Do not make payment to anyone you have not met in person.
  • Beware of offers involving shipping – deal with locals you can meet in person.
  • Never wire funds (e.g. Western Union) – anyone who asks you to is probably a scammer.
  • Don’t accept checks – only take payments in cash.
  • Transactions are between users only, there shouldn’t be any third party involved in these transactions.
  • Never give out financial info (bank account, etc).
  • Do not rent or purchase without seeing the item – that amazing “deal” may not exist.
  • Refuse background checks until you have met landlord/employer in person.


Who should I notify about fraud or scam attempts?

If you are defrauded by someone you met in person, contact your local police.
If you suspect that a craigslist post may be connected to a scam, please send us the details.


Recognizing scams

Most scams attempts involve one or more of the following:

  • Email or text from someone that is not local to your area.
  • Vague initial inquiry, e.g. asking about “the item.”
  • Western Union transfers, or a “guarantee” of payment at a later time.
  • Inability or refusal to meet face-to-face to complete the transaction.


Examples of Scams

1. Someone claims your transaction is guaranteed, that a buyer/seller is officially certified, OR that a third party of any kind will handle or provide protection for a payment:

  • These claims are fraudulent, as transactions are between users only.
  • The scammer will often send an official looking (but fake) email that appears to come from or another third party, offering a guarantee, certifying a seller, or pretending to handle payments.

2. Someone requests wire service payment via Western Union or other option:

  • Deal often seems too good to be true, price is too low, or rent is below market, etc.
  • Scam “bait” items include flats, laptops, TVs, mobile phones, tickets, other high value items.
  • Scammer may (falsely) claim a confirmation code from you is needed before he can withdraw your money.
  • Rental may be local, but owner is “travelling” or “relocating” and needs you to wire money abroad.
  • Scammer may pretend to be unable to speak by phone (scammers prefer to operate by text/email).

3. Distant seller asks for a partial payment upfront, after which they will ship goods:

  • He says he trusts you with the partial payment.
  • He may say he has already shipped the goods.
  • Deal often sounds too good to be true.

4. Foreign company offers you a job receiving payments from customers, then wiring funds:

  • Foreign company may claim it is unable to receive payments from its customers directly.
  • You are typically offered a percentage of payments received.
  • This kind of “position” may be posted as a job, or offered to you via email.