Using Craigslist? Is Craigslist dangerous? What do I need to know before buying or selling second hand merchandise?

Perhaps, your saying what is Craigslist?  Craigslist is an online community forum partly owned by Ebay. Craigslist is in numerous countries, cities, states and provinces worldwide.  Basically you can consider it a gigantic free classified ad service.  Many people use Craigslist to sell their second hand merchandise, some even place ads to give it away. Others use Craigslist to find housing/accommodations, jobs or even a partner by placing a personal ad. You can even get involved in discussion forums too.  

But, before you use Craigslist or if you are currently using it, what are the things you may want to know…

Fraud – Even bank drafts that look realistic can turn out to be fake. Wire transfers, cheques and money orders also fall into the same category. Even counterfeit cash was passed at garage sales people advertised on Craigslist.  It is best to deal in cash and check the cash over.  If you are selling a diamond ring that is worth thousands, don’t meet the person in a public place or at your home, meet them directly at their bank, see the withdrawal or bank draft being made up directly in front of your eyes.

Scams – People who ask for personal information and/or personal financial information from you because they wish to wire you money from other city/country because they want to buy your item is a hoax. They are only trying to glean personal information from you for identity theft purposes.  

Brand new – People will try to pass items off as “new” and sell them as such.  Ask sellers questions.  If the item is new or nearly new the seller should have receipts, warranty information,know if the warranty is transferable, what store they purchased the item from, etc.  A seller should be able to answer any questions about the item in a timely manner.  Making excuses or not answering questions about these so called “new” items should alert you immediately to the following:  item could be stolen, reconditioned, damaged, written off, decommissioned, not new (older than stated) or someone could be trying to sell a cheaper version or knock off as a high end item to make extra cash.  

Thieves – Post only the photo of the item you are selling not the entire room.  Photos showing the rest of your possessions like your large plasma tv, computer, antiques, etc., can be enticing to thieves. If you are selling expensive items it is best that you are not home alone when someone comes to view them.  

Fake ads – Unfortunately, some people get a kick out of posting fake ads.  Usually other Craigslist users will flag the ad for removal and post an ad of their own telling everyone else it is a fake.

Fake pictures – Some people will post a photo of a item in perfect condition, but what they are selling is in poor condition or the item their selling doesn’t look anything like the photo they posted.  You may want to verify condition before going to see the item.  If a seller says it is hard to describe the condition, it has wear/damage/fading of some sort.

Stories – Down on my luck, etc.  It is hard to separate truth from fiction here. Be careful, you can be dealing with someone who is supporting a drug addiction, etc.  If you wish to be charitable then offer to drop the items off at the persons home directly with a friend in tow.

Anonymous – If a buyer or seller doesn’t want to leave a message on your answering machine, give you their name, telephone number, etc. beware.  Communication should flow freely, not be like pulling teeth. 

Vagueness – I lost the receipt for my six month old fridge.  I don’t have the warranty, I got it from my cousin, etc.  Don’t let a good price cloud your judgement.  Decommissioned appliances have been sold on Craigslist.  Decommissioned appliances are appliances that the manufacturer has deemed as non repairable and are supposed to be junked.  Unfortunately, someone picks up these decommissioned appliances at the dump or along the way and tries to resell them. Missing or scratched out serial numbers should be your first clue.  If you call about a fridge and the seller asks which one or has multiple appliances for sale in their garage these can be extra clues too.


Although many transactions off Craiglist go off with out a hitch and you can meet some very nice people; you can also run into problems if you are too trusting. One only has to google Craigslist scams/fraud to see all the problems people have run into on these websites you will get over a million hits.  I have investigated this site myself and you can read about my findings in the comment section.


13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. coconews
    Oct 01, 2008 @ 10:15:58

    So, I investigated and tested Craigslist for several months.

    Here is what I found:

    Excellent condition means different things to different people.

    Decommissioned appliances for sale.

    Items that you can purchase brand new in the store for half the price in comparison to what some people are selling it for on Craigslist for.

    A seller who claimed to have a brand new sofa set, but made excuses for three weeks solid and couldn’t answer any further questions where they bought it, about the warranty, etc. When I asked for the information for the 5th time in a three week time period; I was told they were a University Ethics professor instead. They did not give me any further information about their sofa set, nor did they ever call me or give me their own phone number either.

    A seller was scammed out of $8000.00 because he accepted a fake bank draft that looked like the real thing.

    Some people try to pass off items as high end/quality, but are selling low end or knock offs. Know your products well before buying second hand. For instance a chandelier with plastic crystals sold at Canadian Tire for $99.00 brand new and the same Chandelier was listed for $160.00 by a seller on Craigslist.

    Rental scams are common. Take a deposit and run is common in every city. Verify who you are dealing with.

    If you have run into problems or know of someone who has, please post them here so others are aware of hazards on this site.

    Thank you.

  2. Jan
    Oct 01, 2008 @ 19:07:30

    Genuine Rolex listed, but has a fake strap because the original broke. Maybe they think you won’t notice the rest of the watch is fake too?

    Bicast leather or pleather is fake leather made out of vinyl. It is not top grade Italian leather, but some sellers claim it is. Including some small retail stores that advertise on the site.

  3. Kevin Brady
    Oct 02, 2008 @ 10:41:57

    One variant I see a lot of: seller has gift card for some chain store, with $xxx credit remaining. They usually sell for somewhat less than that amount.

    Is it legit, or is the seller trying to pass off a depleted or expired card?

    Get the seller to meet you at the particular store and agree to have a clerk scan the card BEFORE handing over your $$$. Also, a public place like a busy store is a safer meeting place.

  4. Ann
    Oct 03, 2008 @ 09:09:24

    This type of scam is very common on Craigslist. Read about it here:

    Why people fall for the out of town customer is beyond me. Deal with local customers who have real names, telephone numbers and can pay with cash.

  5. M-
    Oct 04, 2008 @ 12:25:57

    A relative is trying to buy a classic car. Nobody nearby is selling the particular model he’s looking for, of course, but he’s found several for sale through Craigslist and Kijiji in Ontario and in the southern US.

    His problem has been that the sellers stop responding once they find out that he’s not local– the “offers to ship cars are 100% fraudulent” warning on CL really scares the sellers. Nevermind that he’s legit, has the money, intends to spend it honestly on a car, and has already made initial arrangements with a couple of car-shipping companies for door-to-door shipping service. Will he ever get the car he’s looking for? Who knows.

    Aside from that, I’ve used CL manymanymany times, both for buying and selling items. I’ve had fraudulent offers to pick up my goods, but they’re usually easily distinguished as “too good to be true”, especially on the commonly-available items I’ve sold.

    My biggest frustration is with buyers who don’t show up and couldn’t be bothered to call to say they weren’t coming.

  6. Bill Mullins
    Oct 04, 2008 @ 17:45:33


    Good to see ya back on this site. Great post – lots of info I didn’t know.



  7. LEN
    Oct 05, 2008 @ 15:42:19


    Your friend can try an autobroker. Worth the price, less hassle.

    Fraudulent out of town auto deals run rampant on Craigslist.

  8. coconews
    Oct 06, 2008 @ 08:57:24

    Personally, I think there is problems with buyers and sellers on Craigslist. Maybe unrealistic expectations?

    Some sellers are very slow to respond to buyers or don’t respond at all. If the merchandise has sold delete your ad and/or tell the buyers it has already sold.

    Other sellers expect buyers to view their items on a moments notice, people have lives, jobs that take them out of town, etc. If your in a hurry to sell your item, state first come, first served.

    Some buyers want something for next to nothing, don’t bother to show up when they say they will or say they will buy the item and never have the time to come pick it up. If you are crunched for time, changed your mind, etc. let the seller know, don’t keep them hanging as they can sell their items to someone else.

    A seller who wants $2000.00 for 1970’s kitchen cabinets, states the buyer has to remove them by such and such date, is responsible for the cost of any damage when removing them,etc. does not have realistic expectations on price, free cabinet removal, etc. Now, I can understand you don’t want someone to cause damage to your place, but shouldn’t you hire a professional to remove them for you?

    Buyers who post ads complaining about how sellers word their ads, the quality of give away/free merchandise, the prices of items, etc. have a lot of time on their hands. Funny thing is the people who do this sort of thing would probably not like someone to do this to them if they were selling something.

    If you don’t have the patience to shop for used merchandise or to sell used merchandise consider other sources. Sellers can give their items to charity, thrift stores or can consider consignment stores, auctions, etc. Buyers can buy new, try liquidation stores, look for store closing sales/auctions, etc.

  9. foo
    Oct 15, 2008 @ 16:18:24

    ebay has 25% stake in craigslist. It doesn’t own craigslist. In fact, ebay started, which is in direct competition with craigslist, and is currently embroiled in a messy lawsuit with craigslist.

  10. coconews
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 09:30:21

    A friend of mine listed some furniture on Craigslist recently. Here is a copy of an actual scam email sent to them:

    Thanks for your response, i’m a Merchant Navy (Chief Cook) i’m currently on ship, but i’ll be onshore in few weeks time and i just bought a new house due to the trauma that happended to me and my ex. So, i want the item to be moved as soon as payment has been made…
    I will handle the Shipping…The mode of my payment will be made via (Cashier Check) in which i will handle the Shipping. Check will be mailed via (Fedex) providing with tracking number for proper inspection and it will get to you the next day .As soon as Check gets to you, you will take the Check to your Bank or a Registered cashing Point to cash, In which the remaining of the Fund will be sent to the people who will come for the pick-up via Western union …They people will be right there after they must have gotten their fund. Once you are satisfied with my mode of payment you can proceed to delete the advert of the item..The amount on the check will cover the cost of the Item and the cost of the shipping…You will assist me to disburse the remaining fund on my check will be transfered to the people who will come for the pick-up, a time will be scheduled for the pick-up as soon as you have cash at hand…. Kindly get back to me with the following Info. in other to proceed with the payment. Full Name, Address and Phone Number.
    As soon as i get this information i shall proceed in mailing the check to you.

    *Remember to deal with local buyers that show up in person with actual cash in their hands.

  11. Big D
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 02:13:10

    My tips:

    1) Depending on the category you may get offers to have the item shipped or picked up and they will have a mover come out “99.9999% scam, especially if it is in Africa”.

    2) Dont list expensive items “most expensive item I ever listed was a $100 piece of furniture that was in rough shape.

    3) Dont let people think you are rich or well off, I play the part of looking poor and rough look and old clothes.

    4) Be honest, polite, friendly, try and offer them a deal, throw something in for free, educate them if it is a collectible and they are new to collecting, I doubt you will ever have a problem. It is when people are looking to simply profit, lie, cheat etc is when you have issues.

    now, the above info does not gurantee anything however why would someone want to hurt you if you are not worth there time and you were very helpful, honest and thoughtful?

  12. sharon
    Aug 16, 2010 @ 14:23:23

    I was shopping for bar stools on Craigslist. The first seller advertised her chairs as leather; they were really cheap vinyl. The second seller advertised her bar stools as leather bar stools purchased from Ethan Allen for $300 each. The tag on the barstools said “distributed by Target.” My advice – don’t trust anything on Craigslist. If in doubt, assume it’s a knock-off, and look at the label. If they’ve cut it off, there’s a good chance they didn’t want you to see it. I will ask about the presence of a label before I drive to the next place – the first two were a big waste of time.

  13. Mary Aldritch
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 17:31:43

    Why are so many people freaked out about craigslist?
    These same scams have been around forever: in shopper papers, newspaper classifieds, ebay, bulletin board ads, con-men and women on the streets, etc, etc.
    Use common sense. If you are worried, don’t use any of the above. Or, have someone else sell or buy for you. Or go to the store and forget about bargains.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: