The year was 2009. I was renting my first apartment by myself, and so I was finally in a position to do something I had wanted to do since I was five — get a kitten. I’ve always liked cats, and I felt like the two of us could be pretty solid roommates. The first place I looked? Craigslist.

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Alas! Someone was offering up one of the sweetest looking kittens I had ever seen. We made arrangements to meet up in a PetsMart parking lot. I was so excited to make this a reality. But then, nobody showed up.

I sent an email, and they acknowledged their no-show. We made plans for another day, but the same thing happened. Suddenly I knew why people couldn’t trust Craigslist. And this was just a little kitten in play, exchanged in a public place in daylight. So many people are on the site looking for a living arrangement or looking to sell high-end electronics to be picked up at their actual homes.

I still think about that kitten. A stray popped up weeks later, who is currently celebrating her 10-year anniversary of being part of my life. But, the whole thing made me realize that people are often out there just to scam others. If it’s not money wasted, it’s time. In some cases, it even cost some people their lives.

Here are some of the worst Craigslist scams people actually think that they can get away with.

1. Ticket Scams

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Really want to see a show? Then avoid Craigslist at all costs.

Always use a reputable site while looking for tickets, whether they’re for a Broadway show or a football game. Scalpers can go so far as to create fakes, meaning you’ll be out of money and be incredibly disappointed when you get to the venue. Even if someone seems legit, remember — it’s their job to be as convincing as possible.

 

2. The Fake Check Scam

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Whenever you’re in a situation like this, you have a right to feel conned.

These scams happen all of the time. Even if you feel like this type of payment is legit, always float it by someone else to see if something sounds shady. Anything that involves checks or wire transfers (or holding an apartment before someone actually sees it) should be on your scam radar.

3. Sexual Assault

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Sadly, this has been a reality for some people who have replied to Craigslist posts.

For example, look at the Michael Delgado case. He hired a woman to clean his home. Allegedly, he sexually assaulted her instead. Thankfully she escaped — and Delgado was charged for the alleged imprisonment and assault — but it makes you wonder what type of lies criminals may tell you just in order to get you in the house. Many sexual assault cases go unreported, so there is no telling how often this has happened. Always agree to meet in a public place, and let someone know where you are going so they can check in on you.

4. Not Getting What You Paid For

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Again, this one involves tickets.

Remember my sad kitten story? Well, I obviously wouldn’t have paid someone for the cat before seeing it. But when you’re caught in the moment, your brain might not realize that someone’s out to con you. It’s so easy to put trust in other people, but when financial transactions happen online, things can go horribly wrong. This guy got the money he wanted, so he just bailed.

5. The Craigslist Killer

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Remember this story? It helped make people aware that you never actually know who you’ll be meeting on Craigslist.

In 2009, a named Philip Markoff had three shady interactions with women on Craigslist, one which ended in murder. Markoff seemed to have a completely different life online. His fiancee, Megan McAllister, had no clue that the man she was going to marry had killed masseuse Julissa Brisman in a hotel. Markoff died by suicide while in prison.

6. Getting Robbed At Gunpoint

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How scary is this?

In this case, there was no cell phone to be sold. The “seller” in one particular 2011 incident told his victim to meet him, but showed him the pistol instead of the item that was previously mentioned. It’s a shady and scary way to ensure that someone is carrying a pocket-load of cash.

7. Kidnapping And Forced Sex Work

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Thank goodness these two criminals were caught.

Carlton Simons and Shernett Reevey used the site to help lure a teenage girl to their Queens, New York, neighborhood. She was promised she’d meet celebrities. Instead, they forced her into sex work — and since her family lived in North Carolina, she was away from the people who’d keep her safe. Luckily, the two were caught. Stories like this may make you feel like nobody’s being honest on Craigslist.

8. Google Voice Scams

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This is somewhat of a new scam, but it’s already spreading pretty rapidly.

Someone will contact you and then ask for you to “verify” yourself. But what they’re really trying to do is gain access to your Google account. With Google Voice, you’re pretty much giving them permission to use your number for other scams. So if someone asks you to verify a code? Run.

9. The Housing Scam

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Finding a place to live is stressful enough as is.

If you find a listing for a place that seems too good to be true, it likely is. Nobody’s going to rent you a home for way less than the other rentals in the same neighborhood. You won’t be able to tour the house, and the owner will always be overseas or unavailable to meet in person. They’re just trying to con you out of money.

10. The “Out Of State” Con

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Whenever someone posts saying they’re out of state, be cautious.

First, why are they looking for goods in other states or countries? Craigslist is best when used for local interactions. By adding a bunch of requests regarding pick-up and payment, this woman obviously wasn’t legit. Even having a game plan so soon into the interaction is shady. That check would have bounced, for the record.

11. Fake Paypal Emails

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Sometimes it can be hard to distinguish a real email from a fake.

In this case, the person overseas had no plans to actually give money towards the iPod. These two got very lucky, but it’s a solid reminder to always triple-check emails and make sure they’re coming from a legitimate Paypal address. If you have any doubt, you can also contact the company and see if it’s legit.

12. The Ridiculous Money Request

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How can you tell it’s a scam? Well, the money situation is a little suspicious.

You’ve seen a bunch of these scams ask for money wiring, many with offers to send a (bogus) check that you need to split with someone else. But, paying with iTunes gift cards — or literally any gift card — is a good way to figure out that you’re dealing with a total con artist. It’s a good thing people aren’t falling for it quite as much.

13. Benefiting From Tragedy

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During stressful times, scammers know they have a better chance of pulling one over you.

In this situation, someone lost a cat. Pretending to have the cat, someone tried to scam them out of their information in order to scam more people. Luckily, the cat was found. But emotions were high when this was all happening, meaning that the victim could have very easily exposed their sensitive information.

14. Job Scams

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There are the obvious scams, like those promising you thousands of dollars per week for minimal work.

But then, there are other scams — like scams that make you sign up for services or offer up a casting call that’s a lot sketchier than you may assume. Craigslist knows that people can get desperate when it comes to finding a job and making money, so it preys on people who assume that any job is better than no job. Just remember, your time is worth something.

15. The Fake Gun

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A juvenile from Maryland named Jacob Patrick Valentine scammed people out of money by meeting up with them at an elementary school back in 2013.

Once there, he showed off a gun and ended up robbing them. But the gun wasn’t even real — it was a pellet gun fashioned to look like the real thing. It’s a scary scam regardless, but proves that even elementary schools aren’t safe from shady dealings and Craigslist scammers.

16. The Bogus Pity Stories

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The good news is that Craigslist professionals can spot a con a mile away. And, they often like to mess with the scammer in question.

A Craigslist scammer often won’t answer your questions. Why? Because, their main goal is to get you to respond and get you to withdraw money from their bogus check. In the example above, even the strangest of questions didn’t get to the scammer. That is, until the very end — which is very satisfying.

Remember, if anything seems too good to be true as you cruise through Craigslist, it’s probably a scam.

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