What Are the Most Common Craigslist Scams?

Craigslist can be a great way to buy and sell things in your local area. However, because it’s mostly unmoderated, it’s also become a great place for scams to proliferate.

It’s definitely still possible to find great deals in your local area, even on things like rental properties. You just have to know how to weed out the scams.

Here are some of the most common scams on Craigslist, along with a bit of information on how to avoid them.


This is one of the most common Craigslist scams out there. In this scam, the “buyer” wants to purchase something from you. But due to an accident or some other issue, the individual sends a check for too much money. The scammer then asks you to send some of the money back through wire transfer.

You’ll deposit the check, then wire back the requested amount. By the time your bank realizes the original check was a fake, the money you sent is long gone.

The rule of thumb here is to simply not accept an overpayment. Insist the buyer repay you with the proper amount, or don’t accept the payment at all.

Renting Sight Unseen

Rental scams are also fairly common on Craigslist. That’s why it’s so important to vet any rental listings you find on the platform. The most common warning sign of a rental scam on Craigslist is when someone wants you to put down money or agree to a rental that you haven’t seen in person.

You should always insist on seeing a rental property before you sign any agreements. Craigslist itself even insists that you should only deal locally. If you’re unable to do it in person for whatever reason, have a trusted friend go check out the place first. That ensures you’re not just renting out a series of convincing pictures.

Fake Escrow

The concept of escrow is simple: you send your money to the escrow company, then the buyer sends your item to you. When you approve the item, the escrow company sends the money to the seller.

Plenty of real escrow businesses exist on the internet. And their ability to inspire confidence has led to many fake escrow businesses popping up.

With a fake escrow business, everything looks fine up until it’s time for the seller to send you the product. At that point, you’ve already sent the money, but you’ll likely never get the item. Beware of any seller that requires you to use a specific escrow service; it could be a fake.

Craigslist Guarantee

In an effort to get buyers to trust them, some sellers will invent a “Craigslist Guarantee,” faking an email from Craigslist that guarantees the specific listing you’re interested in. This email will say that Craigslist guarantees your money, time or effort, and will back anything you do with the specific seller.

The fact of the matter is, there’s no such thing as a Craigslist Guarantee. Craigslist doesn’t guarantee any transactions on its website; it’s just a platform to bring buyers and sellers together. If you see a seller claiming that Craigslist guarantees its products or listing, it’s very likely a scam, because the buyer’s trying to goad you into a false sense of confidence.

Avoiding Craigslist Scams as a Whole

If you’re looking to avoid online scams, you have to look further than just the ones that are very obvious or very common. Scammers come up with new ways to take your money every day, and you need to be on your guard at all times. If you need a way to make sure you stay safe, look no further than PeopleFinders.

With PeopleFinders, you can perform a people search on whoever you’re in contact with to try and make sure you’re dealing with a real person. If you’re looking for rental homes, perform an address lookup to see if you can find out if it’s owned by the person you’re in contact with.


Online scams are very common. And they’re only getting more common as scammers cook up more convincing ways to fool people. If you need a way to avoid scams both common and uncommon, PeopleFinders may be able to help. With these security tools, it’s easier than ever to make sure you’re only dealing with real sellers online.

For more tools and information, read the PeopleFinders blog to find up-to-date information about how to use PeopleFinders in your day-to-day life.

Image attribution: dzianominator – stock.adobe.com

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