Today’s Scambook TV will help you avoid Craigslist scams. As Kevan says, Craigslist is the online classified ads section of the internet. It’s a great place to find an apartment, look for a job, or buy and sell just about anything. Unfortunately, it’s also a hot bed for scammers.

Fraudsters use Craigslist to execute a wide variety of schemes from wire transfer fraud to bogus secret shopping jobs. That’s why you need to protect yourself by following your gut instincts and only doing local transactions. Kevan offers 3 additional tips to stay safe from Craigslist scams: use a Google Voice phone number, get a counterfeit detection pen and use the buddy system. These 3 safety tips will help you avoid scams and fraud on Craigslist.

Remember, the best way to protect yourself is to trust your instinct. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. It’s also important to keep in mind that Craigslist is designed for local transactions with people you can actually meet in your city. Don’t do business with someone in another state or country, or someone who makes elaborate excuses about why they can’t meet you.

In addition to this, you can boost your safety on Craigslist by following these 3 tips:


Tip #1. Use Google Voice.

When conducting business on Craigslist, there are some circumstances where you may need to give out your phone number. Sign up for Gmail and get a free Google Voice number, which you can use to forward calls to your cell phone or landline.

You’ll be able to give this secondary number to someone you meet on Craigslist without revealing your primary contact info. Then, if something goes wrong, you’ll be able to block them or just drop the Google number. It’s an easy way to protect your privacy and your existing phone lines.


Tip #2. Use a counterfeit detection pen.

Cash is often the easiest, safest way to conduct a transaction on Craigslist (as long as you exchange it in a safe public place). When you’re selling an item, however, you run the risk that someone may try to scam you with fake bills. That’s where a counterfeit detection pen comes in handy.

Real US currency is printed on a special type of fiber-based paper, available only to the Treasury Department. The paper used by counterfeiters is a wood-based paper. The ink in counterfeit detection pens changes color when applied to wood-based paper, so you can make a mark on your bills and spot any fakes.

You can buy a counterfeit detection pen online, or at most office supply stores, for around $5.


Tip #3. Use the buddy system.

Safety in numbers! When you’re buying or selling on Craigslist, before you even agree to meet the other person, you should ask a trusted friend or family member for their opinion. They may be able to spot any suspicious details that you overlooked.

You should also bring your buddy to the meeting spot. Conduct the transaction in a safe, populated, well lit public space.

If your friend can’t come with you, at the very least, you should make sure someone knows where you’re going, who you’re meeting with and when you expect to return. Keep your cell phone fully charged and be prepared to walk away if anything seems fishy.

When it comes to your personal safety, never take risks.

For more safety tips, check out our blog post 10 Tips to Avoid Being Scammed on Craigslist.


Share Your Craigslist Stories

What do you think about Craigslist? Have you ever used it to buy or sell anything? We’d love to hear about your experiences. Leave a comment and share your own safety tips!


See Also

10 Tips to Avoid Being Scammed on Craigslist
Beware “Reshipping” Job Scam on Sites like Craigslist, LinkedIn and CareerBuilder
5 Reasons Why Anyone Can Be Scammed

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About The Author

Miranda Perry is the staff writer for, where she blogs about consumer issues, fraud and cyber security. She hopes to inspire readers to think critically about the world around them and take action to improve their lives.

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7 Responses

  1. Tony Valencic


    The short version of the story is below.

    I posted my old truck on Craigslist for $750 for parts.
    I got a text reply from a person wanting to buy it for the asking price.
    He also said he would send me a check in two days, to please hold it.
    He indicated he could not call because he was at sea.

    I humored him.

    Yesterday I got a Fed Ex package with a check for over $1400.00!
    He sent a text telling me to deposit the money, take some extra for the help and wire the rest to a person in FL to have them move the truck.

    I looked up the company on the check, the bank name and the person’s name, all bogus.
    The phone number he is texting from is a Google talk account
    The address and phone on the Fed Ex package is a moving and storage company.

    As of today, my bank’s fraud division is investigating, Craigslist has been notified and I filed a complaint with the FTC.
    Probably the best thing to do is make sure people know about this so no one is taken.

    Tony Valencic

  2. AndrewNY

    So it looks like some of the scammers from craigslist have made their way to facebook somehow so keep an eye out for text messages and PM’s from weird people and phone numbers – I don’t know the persons FB name but the phone # was 307-509-0124 He had to have gotten my information from FB because I hadn’t even listed these on Craigslist when he contacted me — Below is my conversation with him to give you an idea what one looks like… as you will see I couldn’t help but try and toy with him a little bit.

    FWD: (Dumb****Scammer) – …still available for sale?? “iPhone 4’s For Sale”

    (ME) Yes

    (Dumb****Scammer) – (1/2)Okay would you mind if i pay you $350 with shipping and handling fees to my son who just moved Down to west africa to finish his Art (2/2)and Craft practical?let me know if you can help me out?

    (ME) Yes I can help you out

    (Dumb****Scammer) – Okay do you have a paypal account??

    (ME) I do but I generally don’t use it for things like this where do you live

    (Dumb****Scammer) – (1/3) Am From Sherrill, WI but am currently out of town at the moment and i don’t want any of my family member to know about this because i (2/3)want this to get there a gift and surprise and so let me know if you have a PayPal account so that i can make the transfer to your (3/3)account now

    (ME) Why don’t you give me a call so we can take care of everything

    (Dumb****Scammer) – (1/3)I wish to give you a call at the first moment I texted you but I don’t have access to call at the moment that why I texted you so (2/3)kindly let me have yóur paypal email address so that I can make (3/3)the payment and you will get comfirmation mail about my payment in your email address inbox

    (ME) You can send the money to PayPal & my email I can send to u momentarily

    (ME) My email is [PERSONAL INFORMATION REMOVED] – if you could transfer the 350 I will ship the phone out as soon as I receive payment I would appreciate it if u can call when u get a minute tho

    (Dumb****Scammer) – Okay sounds great and i will let you know as soon as i send out the payment okay

    (ME) When do u plan on sending it

    (Dumb****Scammer) – (1/2)Am planning on sending out the payment right now before i get to work so kindly keep your email address updated for the comfirmation (2/2)mail about my payment okay

    (Dumb****Scammer) – Do you get that?

    (ME) No not yet

    (ME) Ok I got your email just have to wait for it to post in PayPal specifically and I will ship it right out to u (Dumb****Scammer) – (1/3)I just successfully sent out the payment Now so kindly check your Email address inbox\spam For the confirmation\notification Mail (2/3)confirming you that the Payment has been sent and get back to me if you have gotten the mail so that i can send you my shipping address (3/3)for shipment (Dumb****Scammer) – (1/2)last massage i received from PayPal is telling me that the money is on pending they need the shipment tracking number for verification (2/2)in other for your money to reflect into your PayPal account

    (ME) Oh for real …. **** let me ship it right out to you then in that case … Do you want me to send you two iPhones I got extra to spare maybe you’d like a free one for yourself for bring such a quick payer and everything (Dumb****Scammer) – Here is the shipping address….Name;[PERSONAL INFORMATION REMOVED]

    (ME) I live right next to the post office ill get right over there now … Do u want me to ship one to you too since this one is for your nephew

    (Dumb****Scammer) – Nope just kindly ship the Item i payed for and let me know as soon as you have it shipped out?

    (ME) I can’t believe how generous u have been paying extra and everything do u have any friends that need phones

    (ME) So tell me how long have you been trying to scam innocent people for? Is this something you are new at and they just haven’t caught you yet or have you always known that you wanted to grow up to be some scamming Internet scum bag? I gotta tell you when you get out of prison you really should try to get into a new line of work because you F***IN SUCK at your work … You’ve gotta be the worst I’ve come along in quite some time your emails don’t come close to looking legitimate, they’re all wrong, Paypal has completely different practices from those you are trying to portray. On top of that you are so incredibly stupid that you can’t even f***ing spell u dumb piece of sh*t! I’m sure the FBI or whomever I decide to forward this to will be seeing u soon douche bag. Can’t wait …. Maybe you should move to Nigeria because by the time they’re done with you your ASS is gonna be so hollowed out the Taliban could use it as a secret cave dwelling. DUMB MOTHERF***ER! Lol

    If it is at all helpful for you his phone number that was used to contact me is (307) 509-0124

    I hope someone does something about this scum and can figure out any way at all to catch him.

    Then after about 3 hours his friend the SGT MAJOR in the US ARMY contacted me and offered me $975!!

    I am gonna be so rich at this rate!! LOL

    note my stupidly generic John Smith email address I use for these dips!! LOL I’ll have the next one email Pocahontas!

    • Parker

      You may think scammers are stupid, but they screw people every day. They are RARELY if ever caught. People fall for this s””t every day.
      There are 1000’s of these scammers just on craigslist everyday.
      The authorities don’t have time or resources to deal w/ these low level scum.
      You may have vented your anger, but they went on to steal from someone else.

    • RT

      My scammer went one step furher and sent me a bunch of fake emails from the FBI threatening to arrest me. it was hilarious. The email (from the FBI) had a bunch of photos of people at the bottom of the email being arrested by FBI. And the disclaimer font was neon pink.

      These scammers may be smart but they’re also pretty stupid. Key words are “kindly”, “satisfied with your price”, “serious about the purchase” and they ALL want to take the conversation off the Craigslist email.

      When someone replies and all they say is “what is your final price and email address?”, you can go ahead and click the link to flag them as scammers and hit delete.

  3. Hummer

    Regarding the counterfeit detection pen. Most of the pedestrian counterfeiters are bleaching valid currency ($1 and $5 bills), then overprinting the counterfeit on that. In this case the counterfeit pen will not detect the counterfeit because it is legitimate currency. Use a combination of the pen and simply holding it up to the light to view the embedded watermark portrait and strip.

  4. Hal

    I have sold a modular home, a car and a van, not to mention lesser items on Craigslist. Cash and cash only when possible. Buyer comes to you. Meet only in daylight hours. Only communicate by phone. So to get a return number. Buyer doesn’t know you as you don’t know him. Listen to your gut. If it feels wrong. It probably is. I have never bought from Craig’s.


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