Craigslist Scams To Avoid

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We have all become used to doing more shopping online than in stores. You can find some of the best bargains when you shop online. But you need to avoid the scams becoming more prevalent when using online advertising platforms like Craigslist. I wanted to help people avoid falling prey to these scams, so I researched the most common scams to avoid on Craigslist.


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Top 5 scams to avoid on Craigslist are below, scroll down to see the full list.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Always verify tickets or event passes by asking for a receipt to show the original sale of the tickets and check the authenticity of the receipt.
  • Always check if the property owner is the same as the person trying to rent out a property.
  • Don’t pay an ‘accidental’ overpaid amount until the bank has cleared the cheque or money order and the money is in your account.
  • Never trust overseas transactions or buyers/sellers who don’t want to meet in person.
  • Always check that you are using the correct Craigslist site before buying an item.

Craigslist Scams You Should Be Aware Of

Since the start of the internet, there has been online shopping and thus online scammers. Craigslist is one of the most unique and popular platforms for buying and selling items or services.

Scammers will try to sell you an item that doesn’t exist is fake or even take you to a fake Craigslist site where they will try and sell items and services that aren’t real. As soon as you pay them, they seem to disappear, and your money is gone along with the item or services you thought you paid for.

In this post, we will look at the 5 most common scams on Craigslist that you should be aware of and a few tips on how to avoid them.


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1. Canceled Or Fake Tickets And Event Pass Scam

The first scam we will look at is offering canceled or fake tickets and fake event passes. Buying tickets on Craigslist is a great way to get tickets to sold-out coverts, sporting events, or other exclusive outings where there are no tickets available through regular channels.

If you want to buy and sell tickets, it’s cheaper to buy and then sell them at a street markup, but you could lose all the money you have invested if the tickets you buy are fake or canceled. These could be tickets for sporting events, concerts, and even airplane tickets.

According to WiseBread.com, some well-funded scammers have become so good at faking tickets that they can mimic the watermarks and holograms on the tickets. They will ask the same price for their fake tickets and passes as the standard price for real tickets to that event. You will only know they are fake once you try to enter a concert, event, or want to get on an airplane.

How To Avoid The Canceled, Fake Tickets, And Event Pass Scam

These fake and canceled tickets and event passes can cost you a fortune if you don’t know what to look for when buying them on Craigslist. Here are some tips to avoid this scam:

Know What You Are Buying

When scammers are looking to make a quick buck, they will sometimes use a one-size-fits-all ticket for different events and concerts. Not all of them are meticulous enough to create fake tickets for each event. So, knowing what the ticket for the concert or event you want to buy tickets for looks like, you can spot the fake easier.


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Do a Google image search for the exact tickets you want and look at the seating. If the seating numbers and ticket image don’t look like they should, it’s probably a fake, and you should report the advert.

Ask For The Orignal Invoice Or Receipt

When buying tickets from someone, ask for the receipt or invoice to prove they originally bought the tickets from a legit source. Ask for a copy of the invoice or receipt. When you have it, you can call the events ticket seller and verify the authenticity of the receipt or invoice. If the buyer can’t provide the receipt or invoice, it’s probably a scam.

Verify The Seller

When someone buys season tickets, they are assigned an account number. The account number will match their name. Ask the seller for this information to verify the authenticity of the tickets from the vendor. If the seller balks at this, the tickets are probably fake.

Don’t Buy Tickets Through The Mail

When you buy tickets on Craigslist, it’s important to buy them in person. Many scammers only advertise the tickets, but as soon as the money clears, they disappear, and you are left without tickets and your money. A one-on-one meeting will ensure you keep your money safe until you can be sure of the sale.


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2. Home Or Apartment Rental Scam

There are multiple home or apartment rental scams out there, but the most popular one used on Craigslist is where the ‘landlord’ aka the scammer, will list a rental property with all the amenities most people want, accompanied by quant photos of the place. They will list the property at a very good price, making people chomp at the bit to get to it first.

The ‘landlord’ will then collect the first and last month’s rent and a security deposit from many different would-be renters. They then either skip town/or disappears with the money. When the people later try to move in, they realize the ‘landlord’ was a scammer, and the place was never his or hers to rent.

The other rental scam is where an anxious renter contacts a landlord to rent a property. They pay the security deposit, first and last month’s rent with a cheque or money order. Everything looks on the up and up until they ‘suddenly realize’ they accidentally sent too much money.

They then ask the landlord to immediately deposit the extra money into their account as they desperately need it, and after the landlord deposits the money, the renter disappears. The landlord then finds out the cheque or money order is fake when they go to cash it at the bank, and they did, in fact, lose the money they ‘refunded’ the fake renter.

How To Avoid The Home Or Apartment Rental Scam

Before you rent a home or rent out a home, you need to be aware of how to spot these scams. Here are some clever ways to avoid being scammed by fake renters or landlords.

Confirm Ownership Of The Property

Before packing your bags and depositing the money for your new home, you should verify that the landlord owns the property they are trying to rent out. If it’s in an apartment or complex, you can contact the property management company, and if it’s a house, you can search property records. If the landlord’s name is not listed as the owner, it’s a scam.

Background And ID Checks

Wheater you are a renter or a landlord, it’s important to ensure the people you are dealing with are who they claim they are. Ask for a copy of their driver’s license. Then contact a company that can verify their identity and a background check to see if they have a criminal and credit record. If there are red flags, it’s a scam.


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If you are a renter, you should expect a background check. If the landlord doesn’t care to check on their tenants, you should be very wary as it’s probably a scam.

Be Sure Before You Refund Overpaid Money

If a tenant/renter should accidentally overpay you, hold the money back until their cheque or money order has cleared, and you can verify the transaction is legit. It’s important as some cheques are forged so well that they fool the banks. They don’t realize the cheques are fakes until weeks later when it bounces.

3. The Three Most Common Craigslist Automotive Scams

Many people want to avoid the excessive prices of buying cars from dealerships and would rather buy cars in a private transaction. As the turns out, scammers will take advantage of you if you don’t know how to avoid them.

The Buyer Scam 1

One scam to look out for is when someone wants to buy a car and pay using a forged cheque, money order, or cashier’s cheque. You won’t know something is up until you cash the cheque and find it’s fake.

If the scammers are good at forging, they might even fool the bank, and the truth will only come out when the cheque bounces. That could be weeks after the sale took place, leaving the seller of the car without their car and the money and no way to trace the buyer.

The Buyer Scam 2

This scam works a lot like the overpaying rental scam. The ‘buyer’ will give the person selling the car a fake cheque or money order. Later they will call and say they ‘accidentally’ paid too much and ask for an immediate deposit into their account for the difference. When the seller realizes the cheque is fake, they will have lost the car, their money, and the ‘overpaid’ money.

The Seller Scam

A scam on Craigslist that targets potential buyers is when someone lists a car for sale at a low price, listing the reason for selling as divorce or inheritance. They will say they are out of town and you need to wire the cash to them to take possession of the car. The money, the seller, and the car disappear as soon as you transfer the money.

Some sellers will also send your fake Escrow emails that look like an email you would get from a legit Escrow site. These fake emails will tell the buyer to send the funds via Western Union to the Escrow account. They say the funds will be held till the buyer takes possession of the car, but this never happens, and your money will be gone.

How To Avoid Craigslist Automotive Scams

These scams can leave you with a loss of thousands of dollars. Here are ways to avoid automotive scams on Craigslist.

If The Deal Sounds Too Good

If you see an ad for a car that sounds too good to be true, it usually is, and it’s best to avoid these deals. Scammers know people love a good deal and will offer cars at irresistible prices to cater to those who aren’t wise to their schemes.

If The Buyer/Seller Doesn’t Want To Meet

It’s a clear red flag If the buyer or seller doesn’t want to meet. They will use the excuse of being out of town or being sick, and they will ask you to wire the money before you take the car. You should be wary of making deals in this case.

Evaluate The Escrow Sites Carefully

If you don’t have a preferred Escrow site, you should carefully evaluate any potential ones before making your choice. Never use the buyer/seller’s Escrow site as it may be fraudulent. If the deal is legit, they won’t mind using your Escrow site.

VIN Check Affiliate Scams

Another thing to watch out for is if the buyer forces you to use a sketchy site to check your VIN. This is mainly harmless to you minus your data being sold but they are wasting your time and make a profit when you enter your VIN in their report using their ‘special link’ that gives them credit.

4. Fake Guarantees From Craigslist

While Craigslist is a site where people can buy and sell goods, many people don’t realize unless there are extreme violations of U.S law (like trying to sell human organs or illegal weapons), Craigslist doesn’t get involved in its user’s transactions. That leaves an opening for scammers that want to ‘prove’ they are trusted and approved sellers on Craigslist.

They do this after the seller has contacted the buyer; they will receive an email that looks like it comes from Craigslist. This email will say that the seller has been approved and that Craigslist is so confident that the seller is authentic that they will offer a guarantee to the buyer protection service.

You need to pay for this service using a credit card. If you receive an email like this, it’s fake, and you should never fall for emails like this. You need to report the ad as it is fraudulent.

5. Fake Craigslist Sites

The last scam we will be looking at is fake Craigslist sites. Scammers are so smart these days that they have started to build sites that look just like Craigslist. The sites have all the same products, but it’s fake. You will buy an item, and you will never hear from them again after paying. If you ever see any site that is not http://www.craigslist.org/, the site is fake, and you should not use it.

There are hundreds of Craigslist scams, and to avoid them, here are some related questions and answers that might help.

Where Do I Report Craigslist Scams?

If you think you have fallen prey to a Craigslist scammer or think you have come across a scam, you can email Craigslist at abuse@craigslist.org. and explain what has happened.

What Do Craigslist Scammers Look Like?

Unfortunately, Craigslist scammers look like ordinary people. You should always be sure of any deal you strike before handing over goods or services to anyone on Craigslist.

Does Craigslist Monitor The Deals Its Users Make?

Because there are so many users, Craigslist only monitors the deals that are blatantly violating U.S law, so you will need to report any issues to them personally.

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