Crooks use clever schemes to defraud millions of people every year. 

They often combine sophisticated technology with age-old tricks to get people to send money or give out personal information.

They add new twists to old schemes and pressure people to make important decisions on the spot.

One thing that never changes: they follow the headlines, and the money.

Only deal with people in your area.

Don’t wire funds (Western Union, Money Gram, etc.).
Beware of fake cashier’s checks and money orders.
Beware of identity theft. Don’t share your private info.
Use caution when accepting relay calls from the hearing and speech impaired.
Avoid shipping and escrow.
Avoid deals that are too good to be true.


General warning signs

Scammers have many excuses why they can’t meet you in person. They list numerous reasons why they need money and always seem to be in trouble.

Scammers claim they have been in an accident, are in the hospital and their medical bills have to be paid in full before they can leave.

Scammers will tell you to send the money in the name of a friend or family member to verify you have funds or to act as an escrow until you receive the purchased goods or services.

Scammers need money because they were mugged and their money, passport, and ID were stolen while travelling.

Scammers continue to ask for money for a plane ticket to see you, or to “float” them until payday.

Scammers claim they’ve been in an accident or have a sudden family tragedy right before boarding a plane to meet you, or are held up in Customs and needs money for their release.


Passwords and IDs hold high value with cybercriminals. Sending phishing emails to a lot of random email addresses is one easy way scammers steal information from unsuspecting people.


It’s probably a phishing email if:

The email is poorly written with misspellings and incorrect grammar, or a familiar company name is misspelled.

Your name isn’t in the “To” line. This email has likely been sent to thousands of people.
The sender’s email address is suspicious; it might have a familiar company or government organization that is misspelled.

The email doesn’t use your name. Any financial institution you have an account with knows your name. Email beginning with “Dear valued customer,” “To Whom It May Concern,” or even “Hello,” could signal a scam.

The URL is a fake. Hover over the “click here” or “take action now” link with your mouse. If you see a strange URL instead of a legitimate company website, don’t click.

You’re informed that there’s a security breach on your account, and if you don’t take the action recommended in the email, your account will be temporarily suspended.

The email asks for your personal, credit card or online account information or takes you to a website that asks for it. Legitimate companies don’t usually do that.

If you receive a suspicious email:

Don’t open it; delete it immediately.

Don’t follow any links in the email – even if its to “unsubscribe” from the sender – or open any files attached to it.

Western Union will never send you an email asking for your ID, password or personal information.

If you’re not sure whether an email is from Western Union or not, don’t open any links, click on any attachments, or provide any passwords or user IDs.

Forward the email to and then delete it.


Deal locally, face-to-face —follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts.

Do not extend payment to anyone you have not met in person.

Beware offers involving shipping – deal with locals you can meet in person.

Never wire funds (e.g. Western Union) – anyone who asks you to is a scammer.

Don’t accept cashier/certified checks or money orders – banks cash fakes, then hold you responsible.

Transactions are between users only, no third party provides a “guarantee”.

Never give out financial info (bank account, social security, PayPal account, etc).

Do not rent or purchase sight-unseen—that amazing “deal” may not exist.

Refuse background/credit checks until you have met landlord/employer in person.

Who should I notify about fraud or scam attempts?

United States

Internet Fraud Complaint Center
FTC Video: How to report scams to the FTC
FTC complain form and hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)
Consumer Sentinel/Military (for armed service members and families)
SIIA Software and Content Piracy reporting
Ohio Attorney General Consumer Complaints
New York Attorney General, Avoid Online Investment Fraud


Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre or 888-495-8501 (toll-free)
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)
If you are defrauded by someone you met in person, contact your local police department.

If you suspect that a craigslist post may be connected to a scam, please send us the details.


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