Scam Alert:  Navigating the Dangerous Waters of Craigslist

Scam Alert: Navigating the Dangerous Waters of Craigslist


Craigslist can be an effective way to sell many assets and often can be easy and trouble free selling. Anyone with much experience with using craigslist knows you have to keep your business senses on high alert to avoid getting scammed or ripped-off. The sharks trolling Craigslist are very creative and cast a wide net to find just the right target to spring their scam upon. These scammers are equal opportunity perpetrators and their victims fall across all age, education, and income demographics.  

Our owner, Vicki Wiederkehr has steered many professionals away from being scammed having seen the numerous red flags over and over in the 11 years of online selling. Read on for some tips to avoid taking the bait as well as some better alternative means of selling valuable items.

Related:  Cardinal Snags Top Dollar for Vintage Pantera

Buying a car on Craigslist seems innocent enough if you are looking for a great deal, this forum at least gives you options and comparison vehicles to study. So you find exactly what you are looking for with low miles and the truck is being sold for 1/3 of the retail selling price. Who sells a truck worth $25k for $9k? If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is a scammer looking for their next potential victim. Here is an example of an actual ad on Craigslist to demonstrate what you might encounter:

Hi, I am selling this car because my platoon has been sent back to Afghanistan and I don't want to pay the cost to store the car. The price is low because I need to sell it before November 16th. It has no damage, no scratches or dents, no defects. It is in immaculate condition, meticulously maintained and hasn't been involved in any accident...I do have the title which will ship with the car and it is in my name. The Denali has 35,000 miles. If interested, price as stated in the ad $4,300 send me a text or email as I can not talk on the phone. It is in Baltimore, MD, I will ship it to you once you pay, and your payment with go through ebay and will not release to me until you agree you are satisfied. Let  me know if you are interested, email back as this deal won’t last long.  Regards!!!

The first time you read this you might not see anything that raises any red flags other than the low price relative to the value of the vehicle. Not every scammer claims to be the relative of a dead prince in Africa and needs your help getting access to millions of dollars from their estate. This scammer makes the seller sound like your neighbor next door. A patriot in the military even. This guy has to be honest. Apply the following guidelines to weed out the fakes from the real deals.


Keep it local and meet face-to-face.

The is first rule of thumb selling anything on Craigslist or any other online platform. Do not make exceptions to this and you will avoid 99% of the scam attempts out there. Use cash to buy and be sure the title is available, and is in the name of the seller. Verify the name with the seller's drivers license.

Pick a safe, public place to meet.

Find a place you are comfortable with and if possible have someone come with you that can be another set of eyes and ears for potential trouble. Women and young adults: Never go alone. Ever. The parking lot of your local police station is a great place to use for these meet-ups. It is the last place a crook will show-up. Banks are also good choices and you can also verify that the stack of bills you accepted are actually real currency. Plus, there are cameras everywhere.

Never give anyone any of your financial information.

This may seem obvious, but you may be surprised at the number of ways people can be duped. Closely safeguard your credit card information, bank account numbers, social security number, paypal information and any other means of payment.  

Deal in CASH ONLY.

This is the only way to insure that someone will not steal your identity or hack into your accounts. As mentioned above, meet at a bank or buy a currency verification pen to avoid becoming a victim of counterfeiting. Do not accept a cashier's check or money order either. These are not the same as cash. Your bank may initially accept it, but banks frequently hold cashiers checks as long as any other paper check because they are often NOT to be trusted. If it is eventually returned as a bogus check you will be the one on the hook.

These same rules apply when you are buying items online from individuals. As a buyer you also need to beware of the following:

Never wire funds via Western Union or other services.

As soon as that wire is released your money is gone with no guarantee of follow-through on the seller's part and no recourse for you. This is why you should always deal locally only for these types of transactions.  

There are alternatives to Craigslist and other platforms for selling your high-value items.  

Cardinal Selling Services is a professional business asset liquidator that can create exposure for selling your items to potential buyers outside your local area without being exposed to being scammed. Antiques, collectibles, classic cars, and other unique assets can be marketed nationally and will bring the seller a higher price than they could get selling it on their own in their limited local community.

Professional organizations like ours have a verifiable track record of being a legitimate business. We take pride in our Better Business Bureau rating and Platinum Seller status online. Using the professional services of companies like Cardinal Selling Services eliminates the risk of getting scammed. We verify all buyers and payments. When it comes time to sell valuable assets enlist the capabilities of professionals to get you top-dollar and keep the scammers and crooks at bay!

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2nd Nov 2016 Dave Carder

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