Listing things 'for sale' on Craig's List is easy and free, but beware of scam artists lurking on the Internet. It's amazing how quickly they pick up on an ad, then pounce on the hapless person who posted an article for sale.
Case in point: a motorhome was recently listed under Recreational Vehicles. It was described as a '2004 Class A, 36' National Dolphin', plus other specific details in the title. Now that's not too hard to figure out what is for sale.
Within hours of the posting, the advertiser received an e-mail from a perfectly reasonable sounding name and e-mail address that read:
I really want to buy the car. When is a good time for me to come by to check it out? I need to make sure I can afford the insurance, but I haven't been able to make this quote to go through on my dial up connection. (slowww)... Can you do me a favor and go to (...a link for Best Quotes)and look how much the Avg. cost is for our area?
The link for Best Quotes has been deactivated. More about that later.
Let's analyze this e-mail. Suspicion is first raised by 'the car.' This is a motorhome for sale, and it's pretty hard to confuse it with a car. Secondly, the motorhome was priced at $39,999. If the writer could consider something in that price range, she would not be concerned about the cost of the insurance. It was a 'she' who wrote, as were the three others who followed, although the wording in each was minutely different.
Now for the important part, the link to Best Quotes. That sounds like a perfectly safe site to open and there is a legitimate company by that name, approved by the Better Business Bureau. But we have no way of knowing if the link in the letter takes you there. More likely, it will open your computer to malware, a virus, worm, trojan horse, or some other program that will gain acccess to your computer's files and personal data. You are now open to identity theft as well as fraud, access to your bank accounts, and a crash of your hard drive.
How to protect yourself when using Craig's List. And don't be afraid to use it. It is a valuable tool for 'downsizing' or selling a service, but you must be wary. In the excitement of getting an answer to your ad, the temptation is to open a link. A safer way is to write down the name of the site, then enter it manually into the address line.
Other scams with Craig's List: Offering services such as tutoring. One advertiser received an e-mail from overseas. A man's nephew was coming to America and he wanted to pay for his tutoring. There was much palaver about what a nice boy he is, etc. He would have a guardian in America who would be available to take care of any details. Then the catch - on the second e-mail - the man was willing to pay $900 for six months of tutoring, BUT the advertiser needed to send $500 to guarantee the contract - or something like that - I don't remember. Red lights flashing! After checking this out with fraud prevention websites, it proved to be a scam.
So, caveat emptor! A fool and his money are soon parted, and any other platitudes that apply.
Where to report scams:
General reports: http://www.consumerfraudreporting.org/reporting.php
Local FBI: www.consumerfraudreporting.orgFBI_LocalOffices.php
Reporting Form: http://www.consumerfraudreporting.org/feedback.htm
Scam agencies will want you to send them 'full headers' - here is how to find them on various servers:
Let's run these bums out of business! Report scams, that's the way to win.