Craigslist: A Criminal’s Playground

By, Amy M. Voltero

 

Wikipedia defines Craigslist (styled craigslist) is a classified advertisements website with sections devoted to jobs, housing, personals, for sale, items wanted, services, community, gigs, résumés, and discussion forums.

Craig Newmark began the service in 1995 as an email distribution list of friends, featuring local events in the San Francisco Bay Area, before becoming a web-based service in 1996 and expanding into other classified categories. It started expanding to other U.S. cities in 2000, and currently covers 50 countries.

Ten years ago, bank robbery was the most popular crime, flooding US newspapers. Today, statistics are down from 30% to a mere 2%. (Uniform Crime Reporting Program) Most people would tell you that robbing a bank is the dumbest thing a person could do. 50% of all robberies are unsuccessful due to getting caught at the scene or later being identified and arrested from security cameras. (Steve Thompson, Yahoo)  Maximum penalties can be up to 20 years unarmed and 25 years armed.

In 2009 when I was out of work, I would surf Craigslist looking for potential jobs. I sent out dozens of emails daily, hoping a prospective employer would be drawn to my resume. I got numerous responses for Administrative Assistant positions via email, with the job requirements. One job requested that I collect outstanding funds from delinquent account holders. I was to collect payment and deduct $500 commission for myself and wire-transfer the remaining funds to the company’s account. I don’t think so!! I reported it to the Police and to Craigslist.

Another incident occurred when a friend was also looking for a job through a Craigslist advertisement. A moving job for a middle aged doctor, moving from Boston to Thailand. His ad was very extensive regarding his traveling back and forth from Back Bay to now relocating overseas. He was willing to pay $500 up front for gas and or moving truck expenses. Once communication and confirmation was established between the doctor and my friend, the doctor would send a check via fed ex for the moving expenses. Once my friend received the check, he was to email the doctor for the next set of instructions, including the address of the apartment to be moved. When the check arrived, my friend was surprised to see the amount for $3500.00 and drawn on a bank he had never heard of. My friend had been unemployed since the recession, and didn’t have that kind of money in his bank account. Eventually my friend contacted the police and informed them about his recent experience. He brought the check and correspondence to the police station and the officer on duty verified that the check was indeed phony.

Sometimes criminals get lazy and use out right robbery as their means of collectivity. In recent news, a man was robbed in Boston after posting a laptop for sale on Craigslist. He was robbed at gunpoint for his cell phone and laptop. The perpetrator was later identified and arrested. The police traced the perp from an email address used.

Who can forget Phillip Markoff, the infamous “Craigslist Killer?” Philip Haynes Markoff (February 12, 1986 – August 15, 2010) was an American medical student who was charged with the armed robbery and murder of Julissa Brisman in a Boston, Massachusetts hotel on April 14, 2009, and two other armed robberies. Markoff maintained his innocence of all charges and pleaded not guilty at his arraignment. A grand jury indicted Markoff for first-degree murder, armed robbery, and other charges. On August 15, 2010, Markoff committed suicide in Boston’s Nashua Street Jail, where he was being held in custody awaiting trial.

The media have referred to this murder and other murders as “Craigslist killings” because the killer was alleged to have met his victims through ads placed on Craigslist, two of whom were offering erotic services. (Wikipedia)

These are just a few cases of how resources for the world are abused by the millions of desperate criminals, infesting the internet and our communities. During a time when our nation is subjected economic hardship, these predators are victimizing people of unfortunate standards. Some of us may fall for their tactics due to personal vulnerability and end up worse in the end than we were before. Buyer Beware! If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

Next Passage is courtesy of Craigslist:

You can sidestep would-be scammers by following these common-sense rules whenever using craigslist:

DEAL LOCALLY WITH FOLKS YOU CAN MEET IN PERSON – follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts.

NEVER WIRE FUNDS VIA WESTERN UNION, MONEYGRAM or any other wire service – anyone who asks you to do so is likely a scammer.

FAKE CASHIER CHECKS & MONEY ORDERS ARE COMMON, and BANKS WILL CASH THEM AND THEN HOLD YOU RESPONSIBLE when the fake is discovered weeks later.

CRAIGSLIST IS NOT INVOLVED IN ANY TRANSACTION, and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions, provide escrow services, or offer “buyer protection” or “seller certification”

NEVER GIVE OUT FINANCIAL INFORMATION (bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.)

AVOID DEALS INVOLVING SHIPPING OR ESCROW SERVICES and know that ONLY A SCAMMER WILL “GUARANTEE” YOUR TRANSACTION.

DO NOT RENT HOUSING WITHOUT SEEING THE INTERIOR, OR PURCHASE EXPENSIVE ITEMS SIGHT-UNSEEN – in all likelihood that housing unit is not actually for rent and that cheap item does not exist.

DO NOT SUBMIT TO CREDIT CHECKS OR BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR A JOB OR FOR HOUSING UNTIL YOU HAVE MET THE INTERVIEWER OR LANDLORD/AGENT IN PERSON.

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