Maybe It’s Time Craigslist Charged For Some Postings

Scams abound on employment, real estate ads

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This isn’t to pick on craigslist specifically, as this type of thing occurs all over the Net, especially where it’s free to post what other outlets charge for. Craigslist served a crushing blow to inflated classified ad prices in newspapers, and no one but newspapers complained. But besides profiting newspapers, the fees for posting an ad are natural scam deterrents.  

That doesn’t mean they’re nonexistent, but it does mean scams are perpetrated less often when there’s a cost of conducting one. And though craigslist lovers across the world would likely protest (for a short time), it may be time for craigslist to enact at least nominal fees for posting certain types of ads, especially employment and real estate ads.

Real estate scams, especially involving rental properties aren’t new, and craigslist warns renters about transactions not made in person. Most of the scams there involve someone posting a real address and pictures, but the property is posted for much lower than the market rate, ensuring lots of inquiries. The “landlord” claims to be out of the country, and if the renter sends a deposit and first month’s rent, then they’ll send a key for move-in. Scammer keeps the money, renter gets bupkis.

But recently a new con has emerged involving real estate, and it’s pure information phishing and/or affiliate gaming.  When a prospective renter inquires, the landlord responds promising a walk-through on a nonexistent apartment, delivers an application, and asks for a credit report via a specific link. The link actually has the ad poster’s affiliate code, and they get money every time a person requests their report.

Both real estate scam examples are still fairly avoidable if the rental-seeker is savvy enough about how the system works. But job ads are different from other classified listings in that there’s more often an exchange of information instead of money, and responders are used to sending out resumes into the abyss and never hearing back. If you think of the information included in resumes—name, address, phone numbers, email—they’re phisher-spammer goldmines.

Many of the scam ads target the most desperate for work: the unemployed, the under-employed, the stay-at-home-moms, the recently graduated, part-timers, freelance writers, actors, and artists; and the ads often promise salaries or pay well above the market rate for the types of jobs described. Part-time teachers aides in Kentucky don’t make $20 per hour. Secretaries don’t make $60k per year.

Plus the employment market isn’t so great right now. That topless coffee shop up in Maine that just got burned down? The proprietor interviewed 150 applicants for ten positions in a town of 4,700. Craigslist says it generates an average about 50 responses to each job ad—and that has to be much greater in some places. It’s unclear what 50 people’s personal information is worth, but when an ad is free to post, whatever the scammer gets is pure profit.

Price Per Ad

Craigslist only charges to post job ads and real estate ads in the biggest US markets, just one when it comes to real estate. Even in those, it’s a fraction of what the competition charges–$25 compared to $475 at Monster.com. Everywhere else it’s free and little risk. Scammers don’t even have to show a real email address to their targets. If craigslist isn’t going to start charging for job advertisements, they should at least require more information of employers and brokers looking to post along with some sort of verification.   

Craigslist provides a scam guide instructing users how to identify scams and what not to do. The proprietors also tout their crowd-sourced flagging system, but it’s difficult to gauge how many people hand over their information to scammers before a listing is removed.

Maybe It’s Time Craigslist Charged For Some Postings
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  • http://www.lasventions.com John Biddle

    Great idea! If they charged to post the scammers would not pay for an ad.

  • http://www.psprepair.org/ psp repair

    Definitely, this would be a beneficial move for both parties (craiglist and service providers). No need to do extensive monitoring of ads that are posted in the craiglist. At the same time service providers are protected.

  • http://randomplaza.com/help.anonymous.php Anonymous

    Craigslist just needs to replace its broken flagging system.

  • http://www.adwido.com Adwido

    Your right about free sites being natural scam deterrents, but I don’t think Craigslist should charge for that reason alone. People need to be responsible for doing there own due diligence when dealing with anyone online. It’s very hard to scam someone who has taken practical precautions when doing business online.

  • http://vb.maas1.com/t75713.html ????? ??

    Great idea! If they charged to post the scammers would not pay for an ad.

  • http://nlclassifieds.wordpress.com/ Newfoundland Classified Ads

    This would be beneficial, but would it do any good?

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