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Senior Scam Alert - How to Avoid Dangers of Craigslist for Elderly
Seniors Tips and Scam Alerts: Dangers of Craigslist
While the much of our time here is spent discussing the nuances of Medigap insurance plans, the future of Medicare, and senior healthcare issues, it seems that we also spend a lot of our time talking about scams and frauds. We wish that wasn’t the case, but unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any limit to the number of scams people are perpetrating in the world, and in many cases, those scams are targeted directly at seniors.
Now, we have discussed the benefits of Craigslist before. It can be a great place for seniors on a fixed income to save money on a wide range of products, and it can be a great source for making a little extra cash by selling some of your unwanted items. However, with the benefits of Craigslist, come the dangers of Craigslist. These dangers are very real, so it’s important to be aware of them before you buy or sell online via Craigslist.
Used Car Scams on Craigslist
Due to the prevalence of shopping done on Craigslist, the number of Craigslist scams continues to grow. Many of them simply have to do with bad checks from buyers (that’s why if you’re selling, you should never take a check) or bad products from sellers. However, there are some Craigslist scams that go beyond the simple everyday rip-offs. This one in particular is important to bring up, because Craigslist has become a growing source of used cars especially for those who have the time, skill, and desire to fix up an old ride.
Thousands of people have been taken for millions of dollars due to Craigslist used car scams. These “fake ads” turn up all the time in cities across the country. Luckily, the folks at The Car Connection have some solid tips for how to spot a fake used car ad on Craigslist. Here’s a look at just a few of them:
Dangerous Craigslist Transactions
- You can't take the vehicle for a test drive. The car has already been crated. It's at a private garage in Switzerland. It's on a plane somewhere over the Rockies. There's always a long, involved, spiel about why you can't see/touch/drive the vehicle before the purchase.
- You have to wire the money to the seller, though she promises to return the dough if you're unhappy with the vehicle. This is the mother of all no-nos and should raise the hair on even the most gullible person's neck.
- The deal is too good to be true. A 1997 Ford Mustang for $3,000? Sure. A 2010 Porsche 911 for $5,000? Only if it comes with a deed to the Brooklyn Bridge.
While losing money on a used car or some other product that doesn’t exist can be devastating, financial fraud is not the greatest danger of Craigslist. Sadly, reports of violent crimes related to Craigslist purchases have been reported in various cities in the U.S. Some of these have been well publicized, but others have remained mainly local stories. WRIC Ohio reported on the murder of three men who were taken in by a Craigslist ad:
“The scheme lured jobseekers to Noble County with a phony ad for work on a 688-acre cattle farm. The farm didn't exist and the property where the body of Geiger and David Pauley were found is owned by a coal company and often leased to hunters.”
Tips for Avoiding Craigslist Dangers
It needs to be said that most Craigslist ads are entirely legitimate, and as we’ve said, they can help you save money and make money. It’s important, though, to stay safe and to protect yourself when doing business online. The Senior Resource Guide offers several precautions to take before buying or selling items on Craigslist:
Keeping an eye out for fake ads and fraud on Craigslist is an important part of using the site for
- Deal locally with people you meet in person!
- Do not do business with someone who refuses to meet you in person!
- Never wire funds to a stranger!
- Never give out financial information to a stranger!
- Never cash a check that exceeds the amount owed to you and then return the excess money to the person who sent you the check!
what it is good for—saving money. For more info on ways to avoid fraud, check out AARP Fighting Financial Fraud.