Beware of these Craigslist scams (things to watch out for)

I’ve been using online marketplaces like Craigslist and eBay for years to sell stuff I don’t need anymore. It’s a great way to make some extra cash and reduce clutter. I’m always surprised by what people think is still valuable. The biggest downfall to Craigslist is that there are a ton of scammers out there just waiting to grab your personal information.

In this post, I’m compiling all of the scams that I come across. Many people, especially the elderly, get taken advantage of. So it’s important to be able to spot a scam or search for it on Google if you think something is suspicious.

Scammer trying to impersonate you (code)

The most common scam is someone trying to confirm you are a real person. They will claim that they want to send you a six-digit number to make sure you are real. If you send the code back, the scammer uses the code and your phone number to set up a new Google Voice account. They will then use this new account linked to your phone number to call or text future scam victims.

Craiglist sending 6 digits scam
Craiglist sending 6 digits scam

I’ve seen a few variations with the same messaging; below are a couple. And yes, typos and grammar mistakes are a very common way to spot scammers. Unfortunately, many of these individuals are overseas, and English isn’t their native language.

For your safe, can I send you 6 digits numbers to make sure you are real?

I am interested in buying. Can I send you a code so I know you are real?

OK, I’ll send a verify code first for checking to make sure you are a real person. OK?

After verify your post, I meet you with cash. So can I send the code for verify?

First off, anyone selling on Craiglist doesn’t need to confirm you are a real person. This is assumed as you have a normal conversation about where to meet up.

The FTC has put out an official warning regarding this specific scam.

Scammer trying to get your email address

Next, is the classic trying to get your email address trick. If you get an email with the exact words below, this is a scam. I’ve gotten dozens of these across multiple listings.

I just want to pick it up without testing. does It work perfectly? I never check CL mail. my mail address is

Usually, after I post something on Craigslist, these emails start to flow into my inbox right away.

Craiglist message: I just want to pick it up, does it work perfectly?
Craiglist message: I just want to pick it up, does it work perfectly?

And here is how the email itself looks. It will always have a random email address in it. They want you to email them, so they have one more piece of your information, most likely, your Gmail address, to try and break into your Google account.

Craigslist scam to get your email address
Craigslist scam to get your email address

So whatever you do, never reply or email these people back. That is what they want!

Scammer trying to use a cashier’s check

Next, you have the cashier’s check scam. This is where they reach out and want to pay with a cashier’s check instead of cash.

Cashier's check scam on Craigslist
Cashier’s check scam on Craigslist

The message will resemble something like this:

I will issue out a cashier’s check tomorrow and arrange for the pick up when the check clears.

Never accept or agree to a cashier’s check. You should only take cash when it comes to Craigslist. Or crypto can also work.

Tips to stay safe on Craigslist

Craigslist is a great place to make some extra cash, but you have to be very careful. There are a lot of scammers out there. Sometimes, I have a little fun and try to waste their time. But as you can see below, they get angry pretty fast. :) Or better yet, you could try and rickroll them.

Spamming the scammers
Spamming the scammers

In general, though, I don’t recommend you waste any time on scammers. Simply block the number immediately and move on. If they were real phone numbers, you could report them to the FTC, but in this case, they will just change to a new number. 

Here are some additional tips to stay safe on Craigslist.

  1. If you think something is suspicious, it probably is. Always better to be safe than sorry.
  2. Try never to meet anyone at your physical residence. I like to meet with folks at the Best Buy parking lot in the middle of the day. This is a safe, neutral location. Any relatively populated place is good.
  3. Never give anyone a code or personal information about you.
  4. Always list that you only accept cash on your Craigslist posts.
  5. Don’t use your primary email address for your Craigslist account. Use a dummy email or secondary email that isn’t important.
  6. Don’t use your primary telephone number if possible. Use something like Google Voice for Craigslist.
  7. Block any number that you know is a scam. If they keep rotating between some of the same numbers, you can at least decrease the volume of scams you see.
  8. You can flag emails with Craigslist and mark them as unwanted, spam, or scam.


I hope this post was helpful. The better educated we are, the better we can help stop scammers, especially when it comes to family members and the elderly who are regularly taken advantage of.

Have any other Craigslist scams that I missed? Feel free to post them below in the comments. I would love to make this as comprehensive as possible.

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Brian Jackson

I craft actionable content and develop performance-driven WordPress plugins. Connect on X, subscribe to my newsletter (once a month), or buy me coffee.

14 thoughts on “Beware of these Craigslist scams (things to watch out for)”

  1. Someone did send me a code just as you said. I communicated back and gave him the code, then blocked his number. Anything else I can do or is he in already?

  2. Hi,
    I found your post because I currently am experiencing:
    I replied via my Gmail account to someone interested in buying a dresser I’m selling on Craigslist.
    We moved to text (my Google voice #) and they sent a cashiers check for an amount way over what I asked for the dresser (& the movers fee they said they needed for the movers). It all started to seem suspicious. I didn’t initially question it because the area where I live has lots of international students moving in and out.

    So they have my Gmail address, my Google voice phone #, and my home address! Anything you recommend I do? (Besides change my email password?)

    I wish I’d seen your article earlier!!

    • Hey Lisa,
      Sorry to hear about this. Yes, I would change your email password immediately and also set up 2FA with your physical cell phone number (not your Google voice #).

  3. I used my real name and my real address and my real phone number. The only thing the scammer does not have is my email address but they did try to get it and at this time they’re sending me a cashier’s check that I should have tomorrow that I already know is fake so I’m poor. I can’t move I’m a granny raising her grandbaby. Are they going to come to my house with guns? Can’t I take the cashier check somewhere like to the police? Is there any way to catch these people? At this time the scammer is not on to me being on to him. My instinct says run but I can’t afford to run. I own my house I cannot move!

    • Hey Donna,
      Did you already sell your item to them? Hopefully, it wasn’t too valuable. If so, there’s probably not much you can do, unfortunately. I would hand over their phone number/email and the fake cashier’s check to the police.

  4. I just had the “sent a code scam” tried on me. My first reaction was to check the area code of the phone call. In this case it proved to be in Vermont. I live in West Virginia so I immediately smelled a scam. Later I did a search for the code scam and found this site. Thank you for letting folks know about Craigslist scams.

  5. Great information. I think there might be a new one also. I have a car up for sale and they keep asking me for the AAR report. I tell them I don’t know what the AAR report is but here is the Carfax report. But they are insistent on me running a AAR report and they have a link attached. I don’t know if you have seen or heard of that but two different people (scammers) tried that with me.

    • IF someone responds to your ad with a vin report or “VR” request, it’s a scam. Usually this is the owner of a so-called Vin Verification website that appear to be legit. They fish Craigslist for new ads for anything with a VIN, text or email you as if they are interested, and will request that you buy a report though a link they provide before they come look at your car. If you question it, they will say the “VR” contains more detailed information than CARFAX which we all know is B.S. Once you pay for the report, you will never hear from them again. I always provide a CARFAX as part of a sale and offer this to the prospective buyers. Also, NEVER place your VIN in the ad or provide to a potential buyer over email or txt. There’s a lot of VIN scams out there too.

  6. I am selling a semi truck headache rack and this guy texts me that he wants to buy it but he needs to send me a Cashier’s check with $50 extra bucks to hold it until movers can come to pick it up. He said he lives in Ohio and I’m in NC. My wife kept telling me to go ahead and give him my name and address so he could send the check. We were out walking so after several texts from him saying he’d send the check Monday am, I gave him my name & address. I then decided to call him and get an idea if he was a flatbed trucker and why he’d want to pay for shipping up to Ohio (I didn’t like that he hadn’t even seen it other than the pic on CL, which was just a distant pic of my semi with the trailer, so no great detail). He sounded more like an African but he did seem to be trying to purposely jumble words so we couldn’t continue the conversation. I did ask him if he realized how much it would cost to pay for a mover to ship it up there. He hung up. Then he texts me that he wants to send me extra $$ for me to pay the movers. I said, “Nope.” Told my wife right then it was a scam. Then I searched online when I got home and found your helpful info here. Told my wife, “I told you it was a scam!” and read her this post. Thanks. Hopefully, since he doesn’t have my email address, I’m good. I hate that I gave him my name and address, but that could have been found out from my business page or business cards I solicit with. Any feedback would be appreciated.

  7. I read another site stating: It’s possible for a bank teller to verify the ‘authenticity’ of a cashiers check and a few days later have the funds of said check show in an account. But!!! it can be found later that the cashiers check was fake and the funds can be withdrawn from the account… and because of the time that passed whatever was sold could never be recovered. Can this be true? In todays digital age, how is it not possible for bank teller to not truly verify a checks authenticity within an hour or sooner? Don’t banks have the means to communicate with each other electronically upon request?

  8. I published my number on a listing and got the “send me the code so I know you’re real” from 4 different numbers using the same script which set off red flags. Now someone is wanting to wire funds and have his “brother” pickup the item and can’t wire funds to his “brother” to bring me cash because his “account is messed up”.

    I got ripped off in a crypto loan scam and filed reports for theft, fraud and extortion in November and it’s almost February and I’ve never heard from the police, the FBI, nor the Secret Service so even if you are a victim of multiple felonies in 6 to 7 figure not even law enforcement is on your side.

  9. I answered an add on Craigslist-WANTED, a buyer looking for totes. I responded with a fake name but real email address. He responded to my email and said “provide a phone number so we can talk”. I said ‘If you are a serious buyer, you will answer the questions I initially asked BEFORE I provide a phone number’. I also said I will not be sending any ‘codes’ and will expect to meet in a public place (police station in a city next to mine). Waiting to hear back….
    With my REAL name, house address and REAL phone number still safe.


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