How to Spot Common Scammer Language on Craigslist

by Contributor

Scammers operate in varying ways on many different sites. However, there are some common threads in their language that can help a potential victim identify a scammer--especially on Craigslist.

Note odd grammatical errors. Scammers, especially those that operate in foreign countries, include many grammatical errors in their correspondence. Since Craigslist advises you to deal only locally, correspondence from potential buyers who do not speak native English should be looked over carefully.

Spot the unnecessary back story. It's not unusual for scammers to include an irrelevant story while trying to lure you into a transaction with them. In many cases, scammers will tell you a sympathy-inducing story. These stories are fabricated and are only meant to get you to let your guard down.

Find references to third parties. Many times, scammers will reference clients, secretaries, personal assistants, bank associates or other individuals who don't have anything to do with the transaction. The addition of these people in your correspondence is meant to trick you into thinking that the transaction is very important. Scammers may also include in their correspondence fake forwarded emails from these supposed people.

Pay attention to confusing tidbits. Many scammers attempt to confuse potential victims by including a lot of irrelevant information in their correspondence so that the scam will be easier to carry out. In other cases, you may be corresponding with a ring of scammers who get their stories mixed up. Either way, note anything that seems a little "off" about the correspondence or doesn't make sense.

Follow your instincts. If your gut feeling is telling you that you are corresponding with a scammer, you probably are.

Tip

  • check Report scammers to Craigslist and flag their postings for removal so that others won't fall victim.