Avoid Falling Victim to Two Common Scams on Craigslist

http://dontmesswithtaxes.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8345157c669e20168e888cace970c-800wiClose to 200 consumers nationwide have filed complaints with BBB in the past year because they were scammed after responding to an ad on Craigslist. The most common scams involve renting a home or applying for a job. The following red flags may indicate you are dealing with someone using Craigslist to defraud people:

  • The employer or landlord is from another country.
  • The employer or landlord will not meet with you and will only communicate electronically.
  • The employer or landlord overpays and asks you to wire the extra funds back to him/her.

Here are two of the more common scams to watch for on Craigslist:

Online Home Rental Scam:
After responding to an online classified for a rental property, the ‘landlord’ asks you to wire the deposit and first month’s rent in order to receive the keys to your rental home. If you ask to view the property in-person, the ‘landlord’ often claims to be out of the country and unable to show the house. Typically, scammers use pictures of homes taken from real estate websites in the fake postings.

Fake Job Posting Scam:
The goal of this type of scam is to steal money or personal information from job seekers. Scammers usually target those looking to work from home, looking for a second job and younger people looking for part-time employment. There are two common versions of the job scam:

  1. The scam artist claims that all paychecks and reimbursements must be made via direct deposit. Therefore, you must provide all of your personal information, including Social Security and bank routing numbers.
  2. The scammer sends you a check to cover job materials or expenses and directs you to deposit the money into your personal bank account. The scammer then instructs you to deposit a portion of the funds to cover your salary and send the remaining funds on to another designated account. The check is usually fake, but your bank may take some time to discover the fraud. Unfortunately, you are liable for the total amount of the original check and could be prosecuted for check fraud.

BBB offers these basic safety tips when using Craigslist:

  • Try to deal with local buyers and sellers.
  • Never wire money.
  • Never give out your Social Security number, personal financial information or any other type of personally identifying information to people you don’t know.
  • Be extra cautious of jobs that require any kind of up-front payment.
  • Apartment or home rentals should be thoroughly checked out and inspected in person before putting down any money.

~ Erik


  1. Tricia Mattison says:

    These scams are also on the hotpads.com website. I just inquired about a home and the persons says that they do not use a realtor and the fact is that the house has been foreclosed on. So be aware on Hotpads.com. Make sure that you can make contact with a Licensed Realtor and check credentials by calling the real estate company listed.

    1. Thank you for sharing this information, Tricia. Unfortunately, these scammers can, and do, use multiple classified posting sites to attempt to trick consumers. Glad to hear that you didn’t fall victim to this scam.

  2. I was just a victim of the craigslist job scam. I was sent a fake check and told to deposit it in my account and that when it cleared to send a portion of the money to a vendor and keep the rest as a bonus. Luckily for me, my bank realized that it was fake and that saved me from lots or problems. I am just wondering if I should report this to the authorities and who I would report it to.

    1. Hi Chelsea,

      Glad you reached out to us. The tricky part of these scams, is a lot of times people don’t know who to complain against. If you have any information about the person or company, you can definitely file a complaints with us: https://www.bbb.org/consumer-complaints/file-a-complaint/get-started. You might even consider reaching out to Craigslist and sharing your information with them.

      Let us know if there’s anything else we can do to help.


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