Top Craigslist Scams to Look Out For in 2023

by Adrian Yang

Top Craigslist Scams to Look Out For in 2023

It may seem like no place is safe from scammers in 2023. Craigslist is no exception and has been coined as one of the original platforms where scammers like to take advantage of unsuspecting victims. From fake job postings that promise high salaries and flexible hours all the way to rental scams where they post a fake listing and ask for a security deposit prior to touring the property, the Craigslist scam cycle is never ending. Where there is an opportunity, there is a scam. Here are some best practices when scrolling through Craigslist.

Scammer Trying To Get Your Email Address

There are a few precautions you can take to help safeguard your personal information to make sure you do not fall victim to email address scams. To avoid scammers trying to get your email address, it’s important to be cautious when receiving unsolicited emails and to use a spam filter to weed out fraudulent emails. If you notice that there is a high influx of emails from an address you do not recognize, it is important not to click on links in these emails unless you’re absolutely certain they’re legitimate.

A best practice is to create a separate email address for online activities. By doing so, you can be careful about who you give your email address to and make sure you are avoiding posting it on public websites where scammers may find it. Using two-factor authentication as an extra layer of security can help protect your email account from scammers trying to gain access.

Tips To Stay Safe from Craigslist scams

Craigslist is one of the original and most popular online marketplace for buying and selling goods and services, but it’s important to take precautions to stay safe when using the site.

Most of the interactions on Craigslist have an in person exchange component of either goods or services so always meet in a public place when making a transaction, and bring a friend or family member with you as an extra layer of security. Avoid sharing personal information such as your address or phone number with a seller or buyer, use a cross reference platform like Angie’s List when vetting services to be performed prior to giving your personal information.

Craigslist scammers like to get as much information as possible from you especially when discussing a big ticket item, as they know you have the funds to be buyer of their service or paying customer of their products.

When communicating with someone on the Craigslist site, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is;  be wary of sporting event ticket scams, middleman scam, airline tickets scam, or fraud attempts and trust your instincts if something seems off

How do top 2023 Craigslist scams Work?

The top Craigslist site scams include the certified check scam, shipping scam and the rental scam. The fake check scam is where a scammer sends a fake cashier check or money order for more than the agreed-upon amount for the service and asks the seller to wire back the difference. This type of scam is often used for high-value items such as cars or expensive electronics.

Scammers may use a variety of tactics to make the check appear legitimate, such as using a fake company name or including a note stating that the extra money is for “shipping” or “taxes.” Never accept payment for more than the agreed-upon amount, and be wary of requests to wire money, use cashier’s checks or Western Union. If you suspect that you are a victim of a fake check scam, contact your bank immediately.

Types of Craigslist scams

The shipping scam, where a buyer offers to purchase an item but asks the seller to ship it to them before they receive payments. The scam often begins with a fake offer from a potential buyer, who claims to be interested in the item but is unable to meet in person.

The scammer will then request that the seller ship the item to them, promising to pay for the item and the cost of shipping. The scammer may send a fraudulent checks or a fraudulent PayPal payment to the seller, which will initially appear to go through. However, once the seller ships the item, the scammer will cancel the payment, leaving the seller without the item or the payment. 

The apartment rental scam has been one of the most prominent post-pandemic scams. This is when a fake landlord will offer a great apartment at a low price that is also cross listed on other platforms. The giveaway is that they require the prospective tenant to pay a deposit or month’s rent before seeing the apartment in person.

Once the payment is made for that service, the scammer disappears, and the victim is left with no apartment and no way to recover their money. A best practice is to be wary of rental listings that are posted by someone claiming to be out of the country or unable to meet in person. 

Avoiding Scams

Avoiding scams is crucial in protecting oneself from financial loss and identity theft. Scammers are often skilled at creating convincing scenarios to trick people into sharing sensitive information or sending money.

To avoid falling victim to scams and swindles, it’s essential to be cautious of unsolicited messages and avoid at all costs if they ask for personal information or money. Always verify the legitimacy of the organization or person before sharing any information or making a payment. Be wary of promises of easy money or high returns on investments, as these are often red flags for fraudulent schemes. 

Using an app like HOGO can also help stop the data brokers selling your personal info, prevent scams, get free fraud insurance, and earn rewards for learning. They have helped over 2M+ people gamify their fraud protection. Download the app here –

Scammer Trying to Use a Cashier’s Check

Scammers often use counterfeit cashier’s checks to trick unsuspecting victims into sending them money. The scammer will send the victim a counterfeit check for an amount that is higher than the agreed-upon price, and then ask the victim to deposit the check and wire back the difference. Once the victim wires the money, the check will eventually bounce, leaving the victim responsible for the full amount.

Best practices: before depositing a check, verify that it is legitimate by contacting the issuing bank directly and never wire money to someone you don’t know, especially if you’ve received a cashier’s check from them. While we all hope one day we will find our Prince from a far away land, lets try TLC before we recklessly abandon our life savings. If you have fallen victim to a cashier’s check scam, please contact your bank and local police department.

Look Out for Overpayment Schemes

Overpayment schemes are a type of financial fraud in which scammers trick victims into sending them more money than is owed for a product or service. The scam often involves the victim receiving a fake checks or money orders for more than the agreed-upon amount, with instructions to deposit the check and then send back the overpaid amount.

It allows them to exploit the victim’s willingness to be helpful and accommodating by appearing to make a mistake and overpaying, the scammer can manipulate the victim into feeling that they HAVE to help and return the excess amount. 

Typically, the original check is usually fraudulent and will bounce, leaving the victim responsible for the full amount of the original check, including the overpaid amount sent.

Scrutinize High-Paying Job Scams Listings

High-paying job scams listing are a type of swindle in which scammers use fake job postings to lure victims into giving up personal information or money. These job scams often promise high salaries and flexible work hours, making them particularly attractive to job seekers.

One of their newer tactics is to post on Facebook in groups or Facebook marketplace of vulnerable populations like stay at home moms who are looking to bring income into the home without having to need childcare. 

These job listings are usually fake and designed to trick people into giving up their personal information, bank account, wiring money, or paying money for “training” or other work related expenses to “get them going”. In some cases, scammers may even use the personal information they collect to commit identity theft.

Another tactic is that they will have you pick up tech assets such as a laptop or phone from a specific location and have you ship it to another location to “upgrade” your work equipment. 

To Avoid Craigslist Scams, Do This

Craigslist is a popular online marketplace that connects buyers and sellers. Unfortunately, Craigslist scammers have a reputation to target unsuspecting victims. There are a few ways where you can safely use Craigslist to buy, sell or trade goods and services. 

Some best practices are to: never wire funds, send your bank account, or send a cashier’s check/money order to someone you don’t know prior to receiving your goods/services unless you can process payment through a secure site like PayPal. By allowing certain payment methods to be used, they are guaranteeing that you will be liable for all fees and transactional responsibility. Be wary of offers that seem too good to be true, such as extremely low prices or promises of high-paying jobs.

Always meet in a public place when buying or selling items, and bring a friend or family member for an added layer of protection. Always be cautious of requests for personal or financial information, as these could be used for identity theft. 

While all these tips are useful, the best thing you can do when approaching Craigslist users is to trust your gut instinct. If someone is giving away purebred Japanese Chin puppies, I would consider that a red flag.

Know the value and worth of the goods/services you are seeking and if anything seems below standard, it is okay to hesitate before moving forward to do more research.

Beware of Multi-Step Google Voice Scam

The multi-step Google Voice scam is a sophisticated fraud that targets individuals through online ads, social media, or email. The scam often begins with a phishing email that appears to be from Google, requesting that the victim verify their account by entering their login credentials or verification code.

Once the fraudster has access to the victim’s account, they will use it to set up a Google Voice number. The scammers will then use the Google Voice number to make fake job offers, often promising high salaries and flexible work hours. 

The victims are asked to purchase equipment or pay for “training” before starting the job, but once the payment is made, the scammers disappear, and the job never materializes. Always verify the legitimacy of the job and the employer, and never give out personal or financial information unless you are certain of the recipient’s identity.

Common Red Flags of Craigslist Scams when Buying & Selling an Item

When buying or selling an item while viewing Craigslist posts, it’s important to be aware of some common red flags. A prominent red flag is a seller who is not willing to meet in person or who asks for payment before meeting.

Be wary of Craigslist ads sellers who request payment via wire transfer, money order, cashier’s check, as these payment methods cannot be traced or reversed. Fraudsters may also use photos that are not of the actual item, or offer an item at an unusually low price to entice buyers. You can always do a reverse image search on Google to verify the legitimacy of the photo or if it was stolen from another listing and previously sold.

Similarly, buyers who ask for personal or financial information or offer to pay more than the asking price for an item are often scams. If something seems suspicious, it’s best to walk away and look for a different opportunity.

Use “burner” contact information

Using “burner” contact information can be a smart way to protect your privacy and avoid scams. Burner contact information refers to temporary phone numbers or email addresses that you can use for specific purposes, such as making purchases or signing up for online accounts.

By using a burner phone number or email address, you can keep your personal contact information private and avoid unwanted calls, texts, or emails from marketers or scammers. 

If your burner information does fall into the wrong hands, you can simply delete it without affecting your cell phone number or email address. This can be especially helpful when dealing with online dating, marketplaces or job boards, where scammers are known to target unsuspecting victims.

Using burner contact information is a simple and effective way to protect yourself from unwanted calls, spam, and scams.


Craigslist post scammers can take many forms, from fake job postings to fraudulent listings for goods and services. While these con artists can be sophisticated and convincing, there are ways to protect yourself from becoming a victim.

By following some basic precautions, such as verifying the legitimacy of a seller or buyer, avoiding wire transfers or cashier’s check or money order, avoid giving away personally identifiable information, and trusting your instincts, you can minimize the risk of falling for a scam. It’s also important to be aware of the most common types of scams and to know how to recognize the warning signs.

If you want to stay safe online, using someone of our recommended best practices you can safely buy and sell goods and services without becoming a victim of fraud.

by Adrian Yang Mar 08, 2023