Craigslist Scam Update: Six Months Later

The two posts on this blog with the most staying power, drawing comments week in and week out, come from an experience with Craigslist.

Like, oh, about a couple billion people, I’m a big fan of the site. I’m now living in the second of two apartments I’ve found through Craigslist. Soon after I first moved to Manhattan early this decade, I kept tabs on local event listings and went to a few where I met some great groups of people, like a couple who hosted a pickup kickball game in Central Park. When I’ve moved, Craigslist has been a great way to get rid of some furniture and other miscellany that I might have needed to toss otherwise.

Yet everything that’s open about the web attracts people who try to abuse it. One such scam that came to my attention was the result of a fluke, where two people I knew were accosted by the same scammer (or group of scammers). They figured out it was a scam only after randomly mentioning it to each other, and then one of them told me. They then gave me permission to post it on my blog, leaving out their personal details, as a way to attract others.

The post that resulted was this Craigslist Real Estate Scam Alert, posted six months ago this week. It has since attracted about 70 comments, and it led to a second post, Craigslist Real Estate Scam Alert – Another Version, which has attracted even more people weighing in with their stories.

Most people who comment share some sort of information about the scam they received, and it provides this snowball effect, as the post now appears in search engine results for an ever-growing roster of scammers, along with their addresses and phone numbers. I’ve noticed that a number of visits to my blog come from people searching for one of those numbers. See the MediaPost column recap on How SEO Can Stop a Scammer for more.

I met Craig Newmark when he appeared at an event to launch the book Accidental Branding by David Vinjamuri (he’s one of the entrepreneurs featured in the book – a great read, I might add). I asked him about the scam, and he’s of course well aware of it; he’s even worked with Federal authorities to try to combat it, but there’s little the US can do about the Nigerian-based fraudsters.

There is something bloggers can do, and anyone who’s sharing any kind of content online. We can share it with others, first to help it spread through word of mouth, and more importantly so it stays out there for when people need to find it.

2 thoughts on “Craigslist Scam Update: Six Months Later

  1. looks like the UK scammers are still out there, albet with improved mastery of the English language, see below:
    HelloThanks for your response and here is a brief introduction aboutmyself,i am a Pharmacist by profession and I am currently working withthe Woodstock Pharmacy, Woodstock,United Kingdom. I will berelocating to the united states of America for the next one year andduring my stay i will be working for the United States Implants &orthopedic Agency on a private research work. I hereby reaffirm myinterest about renting your home and will be willing to offer you onemonth rent for a start, plus the security deposit in order to securethe unit prior to our arrival to the united states. I have a financier based in U.S.A and he will be the one handlingthe rent deposit payment on our behalf,i will instruct him to send youa bank Check in payment for the rent as soon as you give me the goahead to send payment to you. I’ll be coming with my wife and daughter Due to the limited time that we have before our arrival and inline with my work schedule ,we are making arrangements with afurniture company to supply the home with furniture ,so we will needyou to provide us with the accurate measurements of the living roomand bedroom so that we can send it to the furniture company and theysupply the unit with furniture that would fit in well… i wouldreally appreciate it if you could send me some pictures of the livingroom and the bed rooms. As regards the lease agreement form,you can have it forwarded tome for review.though i will have it filled and signed on our arrivalto your place because i am of the opinion that such vital document isbest filled and signed physically. We can start the lease bymiddle of this month and it shall be for a period of 12 months. Youcan prepare the lease in my name and that of my wife (Dr.John Peter&Mary Peter).Let me know how to move ahead as I intend to complete thisdeal before I move in a couple of days. I want all the arrangement tobe solidified so I settle in comfortably when I arrive. I will let you know the exact date as soon as I get a booking ona flight to the states.I will look forward to your e mail with therequired information.Here is my phone number +447031922853.Thanks andsincere regards from me and my precious family. I await your urgentresponse.Dr. John Peter

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