This week I sold a motorcycle on craigslist without receiving a single email from a scammer. I would like to show you the screen shot of my ad and explain how two simple steps will force scammers to leave you alone.
Keep Craigslist Scammers Away
Here are the secrets. Including two simple statements in your craigslist ads makes it nearly impossible for a scammer to start a conversation with you.
I will not accept or reply to email offers
Email conversations create the opportunity for someone to negotiate terms without talking face to face. If you eliminate the email offers, you are forcing the craigslist ad to become a method of meeting in person instead of a method of negotiating sale terms. If you eliminate email communications entirely, you would force a scammer to call you, which is highly unlikely. No email is largely inconvenient, however, and I recommend just rejecting email offers. Other language that promotes direct communication is “call me for details,” “make an appointment to come see my [item],” “let’s schedule a test drive.” This technique also cuts out all the low baller offers that will waste your time and get on your nerves.
No shipping, no exceptions.
The most popular type of scam on craigslist right now is the too much money scam, a rip off that relies on a shipping fairy tale to coerce sellers to commit fraud. By offering no shipping, you are forcing buyers to use craigslist only as a tool to find out that you have the item for sale. The goal is to conduct the sale and transaction face to face in the open. If a scammer knows that there is no way he can close the deal via email, he will not waste his time. Even if you are willing to ship your item, state in your ad that you will not. If a buyer really wants what you have he will contact you anyways to say something like, “It is too bad you are in Pennsylvania. I have cash in hand.”
What Does a Good CL Ad Look Like?
Here is a screen shot of the craigslist ad I posted Thursday, July 3rd, 2008. I got eleven responses and sold the bike to the second person that came for a look. None of the emails I got were auto-responding email accounts or attempted to initiate a scam dialog.
Scammers are usually not interested in the item you have up for sale. Their business model is to send emails all day, rip people off and steal money. If you eliminate the possibility for a scammer to negotiate a situation via emails, you are protecting yourself from 99% of all craigslist scams.