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Last Updated: May 15, 2014 - 9:28:20 AM 

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Business

How to Avoid Scams on Craigslist
By Better Business Bureau
May 15, 2014 - 9:27:01 AM

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Craigslist.org can be a great place to find deals on used vehicles, electronics, appliances and other major items. But watch out for a new, elaborate scam that's taking advantage of bargain hunters.

How the Scam Works:

You are browsing Craigslist for a used car, boat or other large ticket item. You see an ad for exactly what you want, and the price is lower than you've seen elsewhere.

You email the seller. He replies, saying the item is available, but you need to purchase it through a company called "Easy Yard Sale." The writer claims his father recently died, and he inherited the boat or other item. He wants to sell it quickly, so he is using this service to handle logistics. You search online for the company's name and find a website that looks completely legitimate.

In his message, the seller says you need to wire the purchase price to Easy Yard Sale, and they will handle the rest. His email reads: "They will ѕhіp thе boat tο уοuг аddгеѕѕ, will mаkе thе tгаnѕfег οf thе pгοpгіеtу οntο уοuг nаmе (The documents are аlгеаdу ѕіgnеd bу mе аnd nοtагіzеd, ѕο thеу аге еmpοwегеd tο dο thіѕ)."

But you guessed it! After you pay up, Easy Yard Sale and the seller both stop responding. You will never receive the item and tracking down your money will be extremely difficult.

How to Avoid Scams on Craigslist:

Follow our tips for shopping safely on Craigslist.org.

  • Always meet the seller and see the item for sale before purchasing. Following this one rule will help you avoid most scams on Craigslist. This is also true for housing rentals. If you can't tour the house or apartment before renting it, it's likely not available.
  • Avoid deals involving shipping or escrow services. The "Easy Yard Sale" scam is only one take on this trend. Avoid them by purchasing directly from the seller.
  • Never give out financial information
  • Watch out for fake checks and money orders. Be aware that banks will initially accept checks, but will hold you responsible if they are later discovered to be fake.
  • Never wire funds or use a pre-paid debit card to transfer money to someone you don't know. With these types of payment, once you send the money... it's gone.

Paula Fleming
Better Business Bureau


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