With the increased popularity of websites such as Craigslist, the classifieds sections of most newspapers have almost completely disappeared. Many people have been drawn to the site, because of the ability to list an item for free.
The old form of newspaper advertising used to cost a lot of money. Prices were usually billed per line, leading to brief and non-complete descriptions. With Craigslist users have the ability to list as much information as they want, and even add pictures.
When people begin a search for a particular item, Craigslist is the first place they go to look. Many people have even become recreational browsers of Craigslist. They turn to the site to pass idle time while at work or home during downtime. The popularity of Craigslist is now immense and widely used by the mainstream public.
There is a downside of a mass migration to Craigslist as a means of selling and buying items, services, or for other uses. Without the use of a human editing staff, the site rely’s on an electronic pre-screening system. When an inappropriate or false listing gets past these filters it is left to public users to regulate the sites content.
With the ability to flag other users ad’s the theory is, the good natured people will prevail. In reality many perfectly fine ads find their way to deletion. This is due to jealousy, grudges, false beliefs and an unfair competitive desire, users have against other users.
How easy is it for someone, with a competing item or service as another listing, to gather up friends and have them log on to flag down a posting? It really is not that hard, you can do it. The easy way is to send a message out to your email contacts. The hardcore Craigslist users have even created groups designed just for this purpose.
Besides dealing with other user’s detestable behavior there is an even worse problem. Scammers have become rap-pent on Craigslist. The frequent users usually have developed skills necessary to learn what to look for. There are some scams that are hard to spot, even for educated users.
As an example, I have been searching for a new place to rent. I responded to a very real looking ad with a picture and real street address. The only thing missing was a phone number. Not listing a phone number is understandable, as email can me more convenient for many people.
The ad looked, sounded and felt legit, so I responded to it. For the most part, I won’t respond to ad’s that I feel have even the slightest chance of being a scam. I waited for most of the day for a response. Then at around midnight an email came in.
This was the first sign the listing was a scam. Many scammers wait until around this time to respond to the emails they have received throughout the day, this way they can avoid being flagged right away.
The email, said that they would like people to fill out a credit and background check before viewing the property. The email had a link to another website. I immediately drew suspicion about this. I did some digging and found it to be a scam. I don’t believe it was too dangerous of one just someone trying to cash in by referring people to a credit reporting agency for advertising money.
This is absolutely a major headache, but the reason,I said “not too dangerous,” is because it would be very easy for someone involved with identity theft to do the exact same thing. This would be dangerous. There are many people who probably fall for this scam, as it is common to have a pre-rental credit and background check performed.
Many people have created careers for themselves by scamming Craigslist. They stay up to date on the current filtering techniques, and find various ways to work around them. The scams found on Craigslist are too numerous to list in this article. The scammers normally tend to focus on people who are desperate.
If you are one of the millions of people out of work and looking for a job, the excitement of a new opportunity may entice you enough that you let your guard down. How many times have you been redirected to another employment site where they want to gather your information?
There are also still people out there who fall for one of the various check schemes floating around. If there weren’t people who fall for these scams, the scammers wouldn’t continue to propagate them.
I recently saw an ad where a guy was looking to give a girl free rent, a sports car and spending money if she would relocate to Phoenix with him. How scary is this? If you have seen the movie “Taken,” the thought of a girl being lured away by a stranger is freighting.
With the disappearance of traditional print classified advertising, people end up turning to sites like Craigslist. Many of these people are uneducated about detecting scams, and many people who are educated more fall for a scam if it is new and unique. If you are selling or shopping for a good or service, being an expert scam spotter shouldn’t be a requirement.
To create a safe, more efficient means of implementing an online classifieds, Craigslist should start using real live human beings to edit content, the same way the newspaper’s it has replaced edited them. When Craigslist first started it wasn’t as widely used by the general public. At the time, self regulation by the user community was feasible.
Even if it would require users to pay a small fee for placing an ad in order to pay for a full-time editing staff the benefits to the users (which at the present time compromises of pretty much the entire population who has access to a computer with an internet connection) would be warmly accepted.
If ad’s would be screened by professionals, wrongful flagging would be eliminated, the amount of scam listings would decrease and most importantly the safety of users would increase.
My only advice, is until regulation happens, be very careful when using the site, especially if you are fairly new to it. Newspaper advertising is never going to come back again, so we as users must either really educate ourselves or start asking for changes in policy.