Escrow fraud ruining Craigslist?

Escrow fraud ruining Craigslist?

Summary: There was a time when Bay Area residents could find anything they needed quickly and efficiently on Craigslist. It was great - cars, furniture, apartments, partners, all right there in a revolutionarily simple text format.


There was a time when Bay Area residents could find anything they needed quickly and efficiently on Craigslist. It was great - cars, furniture, apartments, partners, all right there in a revolutionarily simple text format. Then Craigslist expanded to the rest of the US and even the world. Now the scam artists have descended.

This week we went to Craigslist to find a car. Wow! A 2003 Dodge Caravan with 45,000 miles for only $2,900.00 Similar vehicles where listed for $8,000. What a deal! A quick email to the seller and he responds from his email Turns out he is in the army and traveling, can't take phone calls but that is OK he will have a third party escrow ship the car to our home and invoice us. We have five days to return the car guaranteed. In the mean time, he sends an invoice for the $2,900.00

See the scam? Of course you do. He gets the money, we get nothing. No car ever shows up. The level of effort put out by these guys is impressive but it is not much more difficult than setting up a phishing scam. First he needed a domain to match his military story ( redirects to ). DNS for the domain is provided by out of Ireland. The real effort went into creating the fake site based on the legit site.

I was scammed once years ago. It still rankles and I still own the FULL SIZE WATER CRAFT WITH MOTOR that I got for FREE ($139.95 shipping costs!). These scam artists are going to ruin the Craigslist experience unless they do something about it quickly. As of this morning the self policing Craigslist community has flagged the postings from But it took three days and we are probably not the only ones who emailed him.

Here are my tips for avoiding being scammed:

1. If they contact you be suspect. Ask why me? Am I just lucky? 2. If they cannot talk on the phone be suspect. Are they afraid you won't deal with a Nigerian or Russian accent? 3. Don't send money. 4. Don't send money. 5. Research it online. If anyone else saw the same scam you may be able to save yourself a lot of time.

If you are scammed report it to the FTC. That won't do much good if the scammer is overseas but still worth reporting.

Come to think about it I fell for another scam once. That one set my career back two or three years. I'll have to write that one up some day.

Topics: Collaboration, Security, Telcos

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  • This dude is a racist

    Yeah, this author makes a point by saying one needs to be careful when using Craig's list. But to imply Nigerians and Russians business people are crooks is racist. Just because some of them commit crimes does not mean ALL of them do. If you do not believe, your American neighbor next door could cheat you just as well as a Nigerian would and most online fault are done by Americans. Yet, no one calls them crooks or tell you to be suspicious if doing business with an American online or in person. This author is just a dumb racist scared by being a dumb cheated person. Do not put your studity on Nigerians and Russians as a people but on yourself. Be a man!
    • thats a streach at best

      A lot of the "phishing" emails etc are from forigeners such as the biggest one that does include Nigeria check cashing..not quite sure where the russian reference comes from. The author was being illustrative, he could have easily said other accents but the nigeria and russian ones i would venture a guess are rarer to the US over say spanish, french, english. Do call him a racist is GROSSLY exaggerating and unfair. If you cannot see the authors point of view i certainly do apologize.
    • Please learn the definition of words before you spew them in these posts

      The definition of a racist is as follows:

      "A belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others."

      Nothing in his post was racist at all. The term you should have used is probably bigot. The definition of this is:

      "One who is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ."

      However I agree with another poster that he was referencing a common fact that many of the scams originate from Russia or Nigeria.
      John J. Jordan
    • zoldello, you sound like a racist to me.

      [i]and most online fault are done by Americans[/i]

      Sounds pretty much like a racist statement to me.
      • America is a country

        Not a race.
        • So are Nigeria and Russia NT

      • Sounds pretty much like a racist statement to me.

        Well said.
      • Up to yopur neck in alligators

        I think we have gotton off track. The old addage "You know you are in trouble when you are up to your neck in alligators,and your main objective was to drain the swamp." Hope I did not offend any alligators!!
        We are talking about scams, and craigs list is not the only place you can be scamed. Two years ago I was ripped of by a man from Ontario, Canada for a laptop computer. The authorities found out that he had used my money to return to China. My delima is who should I attach the blame too? Canadians, the man. china or just people, or maybe the alligator. Some on this list remarked that we are to accept responsibility for our own mistakes. I agree, except when you trust an enity (ebay) and still get ripped off. Now should I blame ebay or myself. I am not sure just who is to blame. The fact is, I am out a large chuck of cash and my seller is back in china. i think the gator will get my vote :)
    • Not exactly what he said

      He didn't say you should beware of dealing with people from Nigeria or Russia. He said they refuse to deal on the phone and speculated why they would not want to talk to you. Could be they are figuring the person might not deal with a Russian over the phone. That's the scammers problem not the bloggers.
      • a simple solution craigslists refuses to implement

        While I doubt it would totally eliminate the problem, if Craigslist would force 'buyers' to register with the site, same as it does with 'sellers', I would bet at least some of the scammers would move elsewhere, it also makes no sense that any fool who doesn't like you can flag your ads, but there is no way to flag the flagger when it was truly a false flag, or even get some coherent explanation from Craigslist why it actually flagged your specific ad. So long as there is zero buyer accountability on Craigslsit, then why bother registering sellers at all? Anyone who has had perfectly acceptable ads flagged for no reason, with no plausible explanation, know exactly what I'm talking about.

        Unfortunately, it is difficult to point blame to any one country or nationality without it sounding racist, but a high number of these scams do seem to based there, don't worry, next year it will be the chinese...ooopps, just did it again
    • Not a racist statement...

      His statement doesn't sound racist to me. On another note, there was a report on DATELINE NBC about these types of scams, and yes, most of them come from Nigeria even if you don't believe because there are a lot of highly educated people in that country and there are few jobs. They even showed Internet cafes where those scam artists work from. Most scams come either Nigeria or sorrounding areas, and also from Eastern Europe. That is the truth, it is a fact, and they target Americans because this country is the most affluent in the world. That is fact number two. And I am not a racist, just so you know. Some of my best friends are black, and I'm hispanic. I am also highly educated, and when I see something suspect in my email box, I just delete it. I also have my internet security software up-to-date, and only buy things on the Internet through legitimate sites. You need a bargain, go to Ebay, even though it may cost you a little more, it is safer. Just the facts, sir.
    • I grant you

      That just because most online scams originate in Nigeria does not imply that most Nigerians are scammers. My apologies to all Nigerians.

      You have to admit that because most scammers are Nigerian and most identity thieves/phishers are eastern European that they are bound to have non Mid-west US accents and therefore would be eager to avoid phone calls to perpetrate their scams. Right?
    • "This dude is a racist..."

      ...and you're an idiot!
      • That was an insult to idiots everywhere.

        Not to mention being too kind to the OP. ;)
        Hallowed are the Ori
    • Not everything you disagree with is "racist"

      It's really amazing how many people use the word "racist" and really has no idea what it means. There is no such thing as a Nigerian race, or a Russian race. So there is no racism involved here.

      Had he said "White people are crooks" or "Asians are crooks" then you would have a leg to stand on...
    • Oh, come on!

      Racist? For cripes' sake, YOU be a man or at least start acting like one! Using the race card for everything is the easy way out..almost like baing "greedy". I've been scammed or attempted to scam me by people of various races (white american, african american, mexican, chinese...) and i don't think any less of their particular race...I only do that with senseless flat out crooks or people with questionable ethics in business, REGARDLESS OF RACE.

      Sounds like you're the scam artist
  • RE: Escrow fraud. Ruining Craigslist?

    Thats ok I posted this info almost 6-7hours before he did, and I also found sites where "Mark" had been posting in a forum asking for help on howto setup the server for is whois registar out of Germany. Ialos called the Buffalo, NY base he was supposedly out of to let them know he was impersonating a soldier trying to exploit people for cash and for using the Us Army website to defraud people. They were not to happy.

    He was using a simple iframe src="" in his html coding to bad I caught this about 5min after he sent the first email.
    • Post your link!

      Would love to see it and link to your post.
  • Craigslist says "local only"

    Even Craigslist says deal only with people locally. It's easier to scam on CL than eBay and you have no recourse.
    • face-to-face

      I have done a lot of deals on CL. In every case, I have made the transaction in person. The best way to avoid getting scammed is to stay local and be wary of deals that are too good to be true. CL is really no different than the newspaper classifieds.