Report of Common Fraud on Craigslist

Craigslist is ridden with fraud and scammers use services such as PayPal and eBay to mask their fraudulent intentions. Knowing what the most common scams are will help you avoid them. For more tips on how to avoid scams or fraud on Craigslist see below.

Craigslist PayPal Scam

Craigslist Paypal Scam

PayPal is an international ecommerce business owned by eBay that allows payments and money transfers to be made through the internet. While there are obviously legitimate ways to use PayPal outside of eBay, Craigslist is one that should be preceded with great caution. There are numerous money transfer scams on Craigslist and basic personal PayPal accounts provide very little protection to the user. The safe way to accept payment when using Craigslist is in person money or trade in hand. There are three primary variations of the PayPal Craigslist scam, and can vary slightly within these examples as well.

Fake Paypal Site Scam

This is the more subverted method which involves directing the buyer or seller to a site which is meant to look like PayPal but instead is a spoof site. There are hundreds of variations of this scam. It has to be www.paypal.com to be legitimate.

Hacked PayPal Account Scam

This PayPal Craigslist scam variation is pretty simple and basically the same as stealing someone's credit card. The scammer uses another person's PayPal account, and when the actual user discovers unauthorized charges they will dispute it with PayPal and you will have the money pulled from your account.

Fake PayPal Claim or Dispute Scam

Much like with the credit card company the buyer can dispute charges on their account if the seller does not provide the product in the advertised condition or terms. In this example the scammer will lie and say the item was broken, etc. This is why using the eBay system and requesting feedback is important when using PayPal.

Craigslist eBay Scam

Craigslist eBay Scam

Like Craigslist, eBay has its own set of unique and common scams, however in relation to Craigslist it is almost always a scam when the seller or buyer wants to move the transaction to eBay. This should be a huge red flag as selling through eBay costs additional fees and one major reason for using Craigslist is to avoid these fees. The scammer here typically uses a fake or spoof eBay site much like the PayPal example above. Be leery of sellers or buyers that are looking to move transactions from Craigslist to eBay or visa-versa.

Craigslist Certified Check & Money Order Scams

These are the most commonly used scams on Craigslist. They involve forged or completely fake Certified Checks, Cashiers Checks or Money Orders. Some versions of the scam involve overpaying and having extra money transferred back to the buyer (scammer). Other version involve holding as deposit and in other cases they are simply used as the payment source. In 99.9% of cases, transactions involving checks or money orders are completely fraudulent. It will take the bank several days to weeks to validate the checks and by that time the scammer is long gone. It is best to never complete a transaction with checks or money orders through Craigslist even if you meet the buyer in person. The same goes for bank wire transfers or other online money transfers.

Craigslist Phone Verification Scams

Craigslist does require phone verification to post in certain categories and so the basic concept is not a scam. However this is only the case on the actual Craigslist website and not any other affiliated website. Scammers who attempt to get you to phone verify do so, for a few different reasons. One reason is that they attempt to hack your account to use for posting. Another reason is to connect your cell phone with another account so that they can post in categories that require Phone Verified Accounts (PVAs). If they do this your phone number is now tied to a scammers account and you will not be able to use it for your own Craigslist account if you wish to post in those same categories.

Why Do Scammers Want Phone Verified Accounts & How to Avoid this Scam

Scammers either sell PVAs on the open market to businesses that look to use auto posting tools or posting farms to use Craigslist for business advertising purposes. Scammers also utilize PVAs for Craigslist auto posting software. Scammers will get you to fall for this scam by either using a fake Craigslist website, free giveaway website, dating site, job offer site, etc. They will then use a computer program to actually trigger a real verification with Craigslist and then send you a text often in French. They will then ask you to submit the verification code into their non-Craigslist site which they will use to validate their own account with your phone number. The way to avoid this scam is never input the phone verification code on any site other than Craigslist itself.

Craigslist Scam Emails

Craigslist emails scams are emails that scammers send that appear to look like they are coming from Craigslist but are not. The email can be very elaborate and even contain links to fake Craigslist look-alike sites. The idea here is typically to steal your Craigslist account login information but in general these are phishing scams, so they could be looking for all types of personal information include PayPal or eBay logins. Similarly, buyers will attempt to scam sellers by sending fake PayPal or eBay emails after initiating a transaction through Craigslist. The best way to avoid these emails is to understand that Craigslist will never randomly send you an email asking for your account info or password reset unless you initiate it.