The Perfect Home or Apartment Craigslist Scams
Its that perfect apartment or home for that perfect price. The very best crooks will post a price that is quite a bit lower than the market but still not on the edge of stupid for obvious reasons. Besides they are going to put together a dozen photos of the perfect place. It will have new carpet, neutral colors and a over sized pantry in the kitchen. But right past the closet space and off street parking is the reality they don’t have anything to rent and a bunch of worried renters anxious to put a deposit down so it won’t disappear. There is one such case where a would be landlord disappeared with over $50,000.00 in security deposits and first/last rent leaving dozens of people with a key that does not fit the front door.
Malcolm In The Middle
Another popular Craigslist scam is to play the friend helping a sick or out of town friend rent his place. They call this the middleman scam simply because their is a real owner of the property who you never meet because the place is not available. And of course you will never see the so called friend again either or the rent and deposits you paid in advance. This scam has even been pulled off by people overseas who simply obtain a little info and photos of a property of that perfect house. This one targets people relocating to the area that can’t check things out ahead of time. What a way to start your new life in a new city.
Sent Too Much Money Scam
Here is one that bites landlords when a renter sends a check to cover the numerous fees surrounding application, rent, deposits, etc. The old Nigerian “sent too much money” can you wire me back the difference as soon as possible, in frantic message, which of course included a fake money order or certified check so the landlord is out the overpayment and nobody was ever coming
Common Craigslist Car Scams
Here the same fake checks and overpayment scams are prevalent. So we are not going to go into the “why and how” details too much. What you do need to be aware of is scammers will sense your hesitance to wire money before receiving or shipping a vehicle. At which time they will suggest an escrow service. This would be great in a perfect world. The trouble comes in the form of what looks to be an official email from said escrow service saying all is clear, etc. While forging a official looking bank check complete with watermark is difficult at best. Spoofing an email is childs play in this day and age. Even phone numbers and area codes are a three minute exercise to obtain. Be careful!
Buying a car on Craigslist is not something you should avoid because the deals are most time real. However be wary of pressure knowing scammers work inside a sense of urgency inside deals almost too good to be true. And you know what they say… You be the one to contact and set up the escrow transaction. Better yet buy something local and bring a mechanic friend along to check it out. Also run the VIN thru Carfax to be sure it was not under water (literally). Or in a major collision at one point.
Got Tickets? Beware Of Ticket Scams On Craigslist!
I’m not sure why anyone would use Craigslist for sporting or concert tickets with so many other services out there. What you should know is the ease involved in counterfeiting a legitimate looking ticket. Think about the biggest show or game of the season. A scammer simple obtains one pair of legitimate seats and then duplicates the tickets twenty fold. A big name performer sells out performances months in advance and the first pair to show up and be scanned that day are the only persons going to sit in those seats sold twenty times over. Save yourself the grief on this one and buy from StubHub or at very least get to the gate early. I know someone that fell pray for this one so maybe my opinion is a little tainted. But still…. A sixth grader could pull this scam off with a scanner & printer.
What Can You Do To Avoid Being Victim Of A Scam?
First thing is most scams will involve something like and escrow service, Paypal, Western Union or a fake certified check or standard check. You never want to accept any of these from someone you do not know. The scammer in most cases will refuse to meet in person as well. The 1st rule in dealing with anyone from Craigslist to avoid being scammed is to meet face to face and only do cash transactions. Also make sure when you meet someone it is in a public place that is well populated. You have no clue who is on the other end of your computer.
In reference to home or apartment scams. Make sure the landlord owns the property in question. This may be as simple as their first and last name in a property records search. Don’t be afraid to ask for their driver license knowing they want you to give thousands of dollars to pretty much a stranger who might have a key to a changed lock on a empty, soon to be foreclosed house. The local authorities will at very least tell you if the ID is legitimate and matches the name on front. Also be very weary of anyone who does not want their own application and background check on you. Scammers will make it easy for people and that is a dead give away in this day and age.
Also be aware certified checks can be so good they even fool banks and may take a week or more to come back as fraudulent for which you will be liable for any funds given you. Don’t take any overpayment or at very least don’t wire back any difference. Again, checks can be so convincing these days they initially fool banks too. You however can even be subject to criminal charges just passing the damn thing. I know, right!
Last but not least, if something is too good to be true, it is! This point can not be stressed enough.