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 break into your Google account (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. What they really want you to do is try and get your code for your Google account so they can break into it.

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.

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 email@domain.com.

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.

Summary

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.

Brian Jackson

I craft actionable content and develop performance-driven WordPress plugins. Connect on Twitter or subscribe to my newsletter (once a month, no spam).

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