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.