How to Sell on Craigslist > Avoiding Craigslist Spammers and Scammers

Avoiding Craigslist Spammers and Scammers

Two things you can expect when selling on Craigslist are spammers and scammers. They are a downside to selling on a free high-traffic website, but they are also easy to recognize, so don’t let this be a deterrent.

Last Updated: 02/21/2023

However, it wouldn’t hurt to create an email address to use only for Craigslist if you wish to prevent your regular email account from being “spammed” with junk mail.

Craigslist Spam

Most of the spam you will receive will be a response to your ad with a hyperlink for you to click. Just delete these emails and move on.

avoid craigslist spam

Do not trust any links to other websites that are being sent to you through email, unless you specifically requested information from a business.

Look for Generic Emails

Sometimes the spammers send generic emails asking, “What was the price of your item?”

When you respond to the email with the price, you will receive an auto-response email prompting you to check out a website. It is safest to just delete these emails and move on.

Then you will receive the scammer emails. The scammers do not read your ad. They simply go through categories and respond to ads. They try to trick you into shipping an item to them.

These emails come with very generic questions like…

“is the posted item above still for sale?”


“Hello… hows it going today?? Are you going to be selling this still? Look forward to hearing back from you.”

These scammer emails are very generic with no specific information about your ad or the item you are selling.

This is because their emails are spammed to thousands of Craigslist ads each day. There is no way these inquiries could be specific to each ad.

Lookout for Broken English in the Email

When you respond and tell them the item is still available, they will email you a paragraph (usually in broken English) asking you to ship the item abroad to another country.

They will offer to pay much more than your asking price. For example, if you are asking $250 for an item, they will offer to pay $350 total for the item and shipping costs.

This can seem very enticing at first, because you know that it may only cost $20 to ship the item you are selling, leaving you with $330 for an item you were only asking $250 for.

Plus, the broken English in the email makes it seem like this “buyer” doesn’t know what he or she is doing by offering so much extra money.

Fake Religious Buyers

Sometimes the scammer might claim to be a clergy or a missionary enduring an unfortunate situation, so they ask you to help them out and take the money in exchange for your kindness.

Remember this: If the offer seems too good to be true, then it IS too good to be true. No real buyer on Craigslist will offer more money than you are asking. Ever.

Delete any emails that mention shipping and Nigeria. It is always a scam. 100%

The scammers will offer to make the payment through Paypal or mail you a cashier’s check, but the check will always turn out to be a fake.

Your scammer will have received your item and you will have received nothing. Craigslist transactions should always be paid in cash and in person.

Never accept a personal check or a money order and never conduct business overseas through Craigslist.

There is a common Paypal Nigerian scam that occurs with PayPal in which the scammer emails you what looks to be a confirmed payment from PayPal.

However, it is really a fake payment from a fake PayPal email account. If you check your actual PayPal account, there will be no record of the transaction.

More Fake Emails

The scammer will send more emails that appear to be coming from Paypal urging you to ship the item as soon as possible.

The emails contain threats saying you will get in trouble with PayPal and the law (the FBI) if you do not ship the item and send a tracking number.

The screenshot below is an example of a scammer email threat. Sometimes pictures of people being arrested are included as a scare tactic, but PayPal would never include such a photo in an email to real customers.

fbi pic

The emails also say that once they receive the tracking number from you, then the funds will be deposited into your PayPal account.

Wrong! PayPal does not work like this at all. You will never need to email a tracking number to PayPal in order to get paid. Ever.

About 99% of the time, a scammer will be asking you to ship an item to Nigeria. Occasionally, you might get a request to ship something to the UK, but the majority will ask you to ship to Nigeria.

Do not ever ship an item to Nigeria if you were originally contacted via Craigslist. Any deal involving shipping an item to Nigeria is a 100% scam.

Fake Money Release

The next step in the scam involves the funds being released into your PayPal account. After the scammer thinks the item has been shipped to the Nigerian address, then you will receive emails from “PayPal” again saying that there was an error in the transaction and they can’t deposit the money.

If someone were to fall for this scam (which does happen or they wouldn’t keep sending out the emails), then the seller would have given away the item and will not be getting paid.

To keep all of this as simple as possible, just remember: Do not ever ship an item to Nigeria no matter how good the money looks! It is always a scam and there is no real money involved. They try to scare and pressure you into shipping an item using threats.

All of their “Official PayPal” emails they send are fake. Do not ever ship items out of country, especially to Nigeria.

Next Page: Real Craigslist Buyer Tips

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