Craigslist email-reply scam and what Craigslist could do to fix it

By | June 19, 2012

UPDATE [2013-02-13]: According to this article on Craigslist, as of February 10, 2013, they have implemented and are testing the idea I described below for fixing the problem described in this posting.

I recently placed a for-sale ad on Craigslist. I anonymized my email address in the ad, which means that the published email address was a random one at, and any responses sent to that address would be forwarded on to me.

Within 24 hours of placing the ad, someone responded to it, but the response contained nothing but the standard Craigslist boilerplate and a copy of the first line of the ad.

I thought perhaps the sender had made a mistake, or perhaps Craiglist’s mail gateway had corrupted the response, so I sent back a reply: “Are you interested in the [item]? You don’t seem to have said so in your email.”

Within 24 hours of sending my reply, I started to receive supposed responses to my ad, sent directly to my real email address, not through the anonymous address at Some of these responses even used my real name in them. I received six such emails in three days. Yikes!

All of them had essentially the same structure. First, they claimed to be interested in my ad but then proceeded to indicate that the sender was actually interested in “getting to know me better” or some such thing. I was encouraged me to visit the sender’s private profile on some sort of adult dating site at an included link, whose text was something like “” or “” but whose actual link contents were different; if I had clicked (which I did not!), I would have actually been sent to “” or “”. Finally, all of the replies but one had two pornographic or semi-pornographic photos attached to them. These were supposedly photos of the sender, but one of them was clearly messed up; not only were the two photos of different people, but one was a man and the other a woman. D’oh!

These were obviously phishing messages trying to get me to click on the links. However, although I noticed that right away, it took me a few days to realize that these were being sent directly to my email address rather than through Craigslist, and using my full name which wasn’t visible in my ad. My first reaction upon realizing this was, “Ohmigod, somebody has broken into Craigslist! How else would they know my real name and private email address and the fact that they’re associated with this particular ad?” However, after calming down and taking a few deep breaths, I realized what had really happened: the first response I received, to which I responded from my personal email address with my real name in the header, was a (successful) attempt to obtain my email address and name, which were then used by the miscreants in their subsequent phishing messages.

There are three reasons why they do this: (1) evade Craigslist’s spam / scam filters; (2) trick people’s personal spam filters by using their real names in the emails, usually a good sign that a message is not spam; (3) make the messages look more legitimate to people at a subconscious or barely conscious level through the use of a real email address and real name and the lack of the boilerplate warnings inserted at the top and bottom of every message that gets sent through an anonymized Craigslist address.

I suppose it goes without saying that I’m not the first person to “discover” people doing this.

I don’t use Craigslist that often, but I’ve never had this problem with any of my prior Craigslist postings, so either this particular scam has been increasing in frequency, or I’ve just been lucky not to encounter it in the past.

Here’s the thing, though… Why does Craigslist let this happen? There is a very simple way they could prevent it, and that is by anonymizing emails in both directions. In other words, what should happen when someone sends me a response to an ad is that their email address should be replaced with an anonymized address. Then, when I reply to them, my reply goes through, which masks my email address in the reply. Etc. Once both sides of the transaction are satisfied that they are legit, they can exchange real contact information as needed in the body of their emails; before then, they won’t have to worry about such information being inadvertently disclosed.

I have no idea why Craigslist doesn’t do things this way; there are certainly other sites that do. I wish they did, because now I’m going to have to go setup a throwaway email address somewhere every time I want to post an ad on Craigslist. And that’s just yucky.


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74 thoughts on “Craigslist email-reply scam and what Craigslist could do to fix it

  1. texcorndog

    thats why you NEVER put your real name in your reply emails in the “from” option. make it generic or abbreviations of your name

    PLUS NEVER use personalized emails anymore make a new one with abbreviations and numbers only!

    or make up a fake generic name name

  2. Anonymous

    Email Relay.. lol. Common sense and good ol’ DIY research, is what protects you. Scammers even now as we speak, have found a way around the email relay system by preying on those who are trusting. Now, they are targeting sellers en masse, by exploiting the email relay system to send responses to sellers and dupe you into sending them your email or phone number.. You’d be amazed at just exactly what depths these scammers will go, to get you to give up information. You should be especially hesitant of those just wanting you to send them an email. When you see these, DELETE THEM. DO NOT reply back, exposing your email address.

    There are many tricks scammers use to target your accounts. If you would like some additional information on how to protect yourself and your email account, send me an email at..

    See.. It’s that EASY. Knowledge is power people, fight back by arming yourself with the knowledge of how. Your email address these days, is the equivalent of your social security number. With your email address, dependent on whether you used truthful information when creating it, a scammer can get your name, address, date of birth, criminal background, marriage background, telephone number, mortgage information, family information and the list goes on… This is the double-edged sword of public information and the sacrifice of privacy in a technology-driven society.

    Also, for those of you asking what might happen since you responded to a scammers email, take the following actions:

    1. Change your password, IMMEDIATELY. The longer, the better, preferentially a mix of numbers, letters (Capital and lowercase) and special characters if your email provider allows it (ie: !@#*$%). Avoid changing your password to names or other publicly available information and anything that can be found in a dictionary (ie: ILuvMom or MyEmail123). Most password-cracker utilities, utilize dictionary words or common terms, to crack passwords. An example of a secure password: Y2mU49#sP7qa!

    2. Setup a new email account and either download important emails to your PC or migrate them to the new email account. All email providers support migration of email accounts.

    3. If you have GMail, setup 2-step authentication. That way anytime someone tries to login to your account, they will be prompted for a security code before they can even sign in. When you set this up, it will either call you or send a text, to the number you specify when you set it up. This is a useful security measure.

    4. DO NOT, give your email address to anyone who does not need access. This will require due-diligence on your part deciding who needs it but will save you any unnecessary heartache.

  3. Joe Blo

    These scammers only need to get lucky with 1 dipshit per month, and they make enough money to live like a king in their third-world countries. Afterall, in Nigeria, or whatever dump they operate from, getting some dope to send the balance of a bogus $5,000 or $10,000 check would make their entire scam campaign a massive success. That’s what’s so frustrating… There’s always some dopey sap that falls for these moronic scams. Because there’s no shortages of dumb and naïve people. Mix in greed, and a naïve and mentally-limited person would easily fall for anything with a promise of easy money. Even though the average person can’t imagine anyone is so foolish.

    So they send out thousands and thousands of messages every day. The odds are afterall against the scammers. But with the sheer volume, it’s clearly working for them. Because again, just 1, just a single victim per month, and they score hugely. And remember $1,000 in Nigeria is like, what, something like $50 zillion in America.

    The best defense is to totally ignore them. Trying to ‘waste’ the scammer’s time, or playing games with them, is only playing games with yourself.

    Easy tips to not get spammed these messages in the first place:
    1. Never put your email address in your CL ad. There’s no need to do this anyway. Clist is free, so you don’t have to ‘sneak’ in a way to talk outside of Craigslist. Craigslist doesn’t get a cut of what you sell anyway. So putting your email in the CL ad is only good to help scammers and spammers.

    2. Never reply to a suspected scammer. That only confirms your address is valid. And they will use your email for countless other scams.

    3. If someone responds to your Craigslist ad, but has not one unique question, then they are a scammer. And scammers cannot spend the time to personalize each message. They send thousands a day. I mean if they only refer to your item as ‘item’, it’s safe to say they didn’t read your ad at all. And if they have not a single question that has any specifics mentioned, it’s also a guaranteed scammer.

    4. Anyone requesting that YOU verify yourself is a scammer. Normal people would never contact a Craigslist seller, and then say such a moronic thing.

    5. Anyone shopping for someone else is almost always the pretense behind scammers. Nobody needs someone to shop for them on Craigslist. Please! But scammers always say, especially to mask their total lack of interest and knowledge about your item, that they are shopping for an ‘associate’ or a ‘friend’, or better still, a ‘sick friend’.

    6. Craigslist is almost entirely designed for LOCAL and face-to-face transactions only. So if someone is asking about your item but is in another state, or in another country, they are likely a scammer. Because why wouldn’t they shop locally if they were legit? They would. Just ask yourself, “Is my item so unique that it makes sense a man from England would purchase it”.

    7. Anything too good to be true is… Well, we all know this one.

    8. Anyone asking to use any money wire service is absolutely unreal.

    9. Anyone asking you to visit their email address to ‘verify’ yourself is a scammer. That verifies nothing. The scammer just wants to get around Craigslist’s anonymizer.

    10. The ‘buyer’ makes no attempt to negotiate a price. The scammers are lazy and spam so many people that they don’t have time to waste with such trivial details as the item’s price. Hehe.

  4. sm

    I keep getting weird messages asking to purchase things I have posted, with a cashiers check they send. They want my name and address to send it to me and even offer more to hold it, then I do not hear back from them once I give them the info.

    1. jik Post author

      Don’t you read all the stuff about scams that Craigslist shoves in your face when you place an ad? They’re not kidding, you know.

      Cashier’s checks are a red flag. Offering to give you more money than the actual price of the item is a huge, big, blazing, unmistakeable red flag.

      Giving these people your name and mailing address is just about the worst thing you could do; do you know what identity theft is? Well, not the stupidest thing… that would be actually accepting and depositing the cashier’s check, which is just going to bounce a couple weeks later and leave you holding the bag.

  5. someone you know

    CL is actually doing this exact thing now (anonymizing mail in both directions) and most of the responses you get have a link at the bottom you can click to mark a reply as “annoying”, “spam” or “scam”.

    1. jik Post author

      Yes, I said that already in an update at the top of the posting.

      1. Amy K

        It’s being implemented but CL hasn’t made both sides anonymous. I’ve posted to sell furniture and I’ve noticed all the email responses had emails come in like If I responded back, my email is exposed to them but I can’t ever see their email unless they give it to me in the body. I tested it on two CL accounts because I couldn’t reply at all with Yahoo and with Outlook, I could reply but still couldn’t see the address. I tested with a friend; I asked her to respond to my post. She saw my address once I responded to her reply email. Sucks. Anyone know a way around this?

        1. jik Post author

          When I tried it out a while ago, it was definitely anonymized both ways.

          I just tried it again, and again it was anonymized in both directions.

          Perhaps they haven’t rolled it out to everyone yet. Or perhaps it is malfunctioning somehow. Or perhaps you are confused. I couldn’t say which.

    2. BDD

      I received an email question to a sell posting I have on CL. It came as a reply to my post with the request that I reply directly back to this person’s hotmail address (listed separately) instead of responding directly to their email. Something to worry about? Am I paranoid?

      1. jik Post author

        They probably want you to reply directly to the email address in the body of the message is so that it doesn’t go through Craigslist’s anonymizer so they can get your real email address.

        In other words, you’re not paranoid, and you probably should be worried.

        Reply to the address in the header, not the Hotmail address. If they’re legitimate, they’ll get your email and you’ll strike up a conversation about your posting. If they’re bogus, you’ll never hear from them again.

  6. Vinny

    I’ve noticed it as well; emails are anonymized in both directions now and the spam has been cut down. As for me, this is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a good thing because when I respond to an ad that seems legit but it is not (which is rare for me) they won’t get my email addy. But, now that they’re anonymizing the return message, I can no longer trace it. That’s how I would determine whether they were legit or not when I placed an ad. I would view the “full-header” or “source” of the message, find the originating IP address, and trace where it was sent from. You can also see other info such as if there is another “reply to” email address that your response would be forwarded to that you’re not aware of otherwise. Now I can’t trace them.

    1. jik Post author

      Once you’ve verified that someone seems legitimate based on the information you have, you can give them your real email address in the body of an email to them and tell them to send you email at that address from your real address so you can confirm they’re legit before doing business with them.

      Alternatively, ask them for a phone number and call them.

      There are lots of ways to verify that someone is legit.

      1. Keith

        PS.. thanks for the article. I was kind of wondering why I was getting autonomized emails, and this was the first article I could find addressing it…. Even if it initially was just initially telling Craigs they should do this. haha

    2. Keith

      I too use this method of checking to make sure the respondent is an actual human being. I usually check their email and name as well if it’s connected to their email account like most are. (Even though I mask mine for security purposes). However, I have gotten in the habit of taking a no nonsense stance on my posts. I ask for the respondent to give me a phone number that I can reach them at so I know that they are not a phisher and an actual human being. Most people are fine with this if they are indeed interested. If they don’t want to give out their number, or don’t have one available, they will explain this, and through discussion it will be evident they are not a spammer. This has worked for me since before they did this two-way autonomization. I would get spam, but I could easily weed out the ones that were crap. If someone accidently responded with a quick message, they usually reread my post, and quickly email me back with something that shows they are actually interested. (I prefer to deal with people that can read a few sentences and respond in a correct manner anyway.) Responses like, “Hey, is that chair still available.” or “I’m interested in your item.” are usually spam, and if not they are people not worth dealing with. If they actually want your product, they’ll let you know. Overall I’m happy Craigslist is taking steps to cut down spam. It gives me some stress not knowing what email address I’m getting an email from, but I can deal.

  7. frank

    I posted a for sale item on Craigslist and since then have been getting 10-20 spam emails per day. I will never post to CL again, finished with them.

  8. Markus

    that’s what a typical SCAM email response looks like:

    “I am very interested! My inbox is completely flooded with spammers and I am tired of this shit! 🙁 If you are REAL, email me below. I won’t be checking this email account. I have questions to ask. 1) My REAL EMAIL ADDRESS is (copy & paste it): 2) Copy & Paste same subject used in your CL post as subject line so I know it is you I lost my cell phone so let’s talk via email, I got money ready! :)”


  9. Tani

    I placed a craigslist add for selling furniture. While the ad was live I received 8 porn emails wanting to meet for sex. A week after the ad expired I have received over 30 such emails. I have not responded to any of them or clicked on any links in the emails. I have reported it to craigslist but no response. I have always had good success with craigslist ads until now.

    1. Anonymous

      I have gotten the same thing!they are texting me so they now have my number????????? Craigsllist has not responded. Anyone no how to stop this?????

      1. Lemon

        This is happening to me too, they won’t stop 🙁

  10. Mike

    I’ve been craigslisting for years and most scams are easy to spot. In the past month or so scammers seemed to have slowed–more screeched to a halt. (Mind you low value items draw fewer spammers/scammers.)

    Until today. I received multiple “anonymous” replies asking me to prove I’m not fake with alternate emails for the responder offered. Several of these emails also had clear boxes with randomly named .jpg images attached?

    Seems to be a role reversal here. Being the original poster of the ad I feel no need to “prove” my identity. These “replies” metioned “phonies” and “frauds” with the most comical reply being: “I am dead serious. If you’re not fake e-mail to my non-public email address to [deteted]”

    Are you kidding me? Sure, I could use some cash but when in doubt I say ignore and delete. This recent attack appears to be nothing more than an embellishment of previous scam procedure. Overall CL has worked well for me both as a buyer and seller. Honest replies should be obvious.

    1. M)

      I received an email just like what Mike said. “Im local and real. If u’re a real person write back to my non-public email address t []” and with an image attached.

      Not sure what is happening here. Maybe they are trying to get into someone’s account. Be sure to have multiple emails everyone!

  11. Nancy

    So this is happening to me, but Im getting 8 to 10 a day on account. So how do you stop them or can you. I’ve just been deleting as they come through. Thanks

  12. kelcie

    For the past couple postings i have put it get a reply back starting with: to prove to be you’re too email me with ———— in the subject line to this email… Or another way they will start the email is to affirm you r true answer with etc. i have never gotten these before,so why am i getting them now?… I changed my log in information hoping this will help.

  13. david

    I got an email saying is the item still available and i responded yes they said i am okay with the asking price can i send you a check and i will add 50. To hold the item for me and will arrange for pick up when the check is cashed just send me uour name and address and i will send it overnight ups so i did and the i asked where are you located and no response did i get scamed or can they do something with my name and address?

    1. dp

      “…I got an email saying is the item still available and i responded yes they said i am okay with the asking price can i send you a check and i will add 50. To hold the item for me and will arrange for pick up when the check is cashed just send me uour name and address and i will send it overnight ups…”

      ha exactly the same here, in fact in response to several listings I have up at craigslist, and usually explaining that they wish they could see it in person and/or would I take more pictures of the items and send along with a pic of me so their ass’t can verify me as the seller when he meets me to pick up the item ETC ETC.

      I hadn’t posted anything for sale at craig’s for two or three years and have been surprised how much more intense the scammers have gotten. But I never use my real name or main email acc’ts to deal over the internet and always do a Google search on the name associated with the reply in their fake email acc’t before deciding how suspicious to be when/if I reply back.

      1. Anonymous

        Googling the name does not always help. I have noticed that in recent months some scammers and spammers started including legit phone numbers and names. So if you google them you confirm that these people exist. I still do not get the point of doing this new thing… I figured these were fake replies because I noticed that some people were really old but the style used in e-mails was inadequate for their age. Another hint was when I was selling roller blades and got a reply from a very old guy (obviously it was not him). So if they include someone else’s phone number and ask me to call, what is the point of this game? I never called because I always do my homework 🙂

  14. janny

    Since I posted and then long after I deleted an item on Craig’s List I’ve been getting the same mail to my personal address – all from The sender’s name changes every time and it is usually a long complicated name so I think it is an automated system that sends me one or two such mails 24/7. The sender names never repeat. I do NOT click on the link any longer once I found out what this was about. In the beginning I deleted all such mail. Now I’m saving them in my spam folder. I sent a message to CL asking them what they can do about it – never got a reply. The local District Attorney’s office has a cybercrimes unit but this isn’t a crime (I wish it were). Isn’t there a Federal agency that monitors such mail? Who can I report these offensive messages to? It’s like having your telephone ring with either silence or crap messages. I get those also.

  15. Billy

    I am also getting replies to my Craigslist ad. My daughter said to take it to the Police Department. I may do that.

  16. Deb

    😉 funny, I am now getting the “do you still have the item” porn pictures, of ladies, ahhh so I email back, saying well seeing that you’re in the skin business, maybe you can use some Avon skin cream, and a little fragrant bath gels, to keep your tush fresh. Then I don’t hear back, the funny one was when I posted about the Avon Magic Bus Tour, and a person asked what kind of bus and how much, now that was funny nowhere in the ad was the bus for sale.

    So this ends up in my spam folder, but lately I’ve been getting people signing up on my avon account with vulgar email telling me to go f myself, and stuff like that, I forward it to Avon’s headquarters cause it sort of scared me, the emails where very mean rude.

    Now that I see the porn thing is happening to other, guess it is new, it did not used to happen. But signing on to my avon site, with rude email with a how can a go f be made? I don’t know.

    I got one now that say’s I want to sell your items in bangladash, so I said Avon is world wide all you have to do is join,, would you like to sign up, no response,,, lol thanks guys and gals for the info.

    1. jik Post author

      I’m not sure what you mean. What does AOL have to do with it?

  17. karlabsl

    Here is what everyone in United States should do. ACCEPT their offer to send you a cashier’s check! First of all, it costs them money to send it! It is sent with a ‘signature required’. And that costs money.

    However, have the check sent to any of the following addresses: your local congressman, senator, police chief, FBI guy, CIA guy . . . anyone like that. Use their legit local office addresses (not their D.C. addresses).

    This is a fun game for everyone! The Nigerians get to spend their money. Our U.S. Post Office gets a little foreign cash. You get to watch your email to see when the check gets sent. Within 60 minutes of delivery (don’t forget, these checks aways come with delivery confirmation), the Nigerian will contact you to tell you, “by now you have received your money.” Then he will tell you where to send the excess.

    Simply respond, “hey, my bank says this check is counterfeit.” You will never hear from them again.

    1. Elle

      That’s what I did, used the name of a collection conman that tries to pry money out of people who owe nothing, used his phone number, and the address of the local FBI. They got so many checks, they called me and asked me to start reporting them to IC3.

    2. Elle

      Also, the scammers are now sending emails without any IP address, so you can no longer tell where they come from.

      1. jik Post author

        I am not sure what you mean. It is not possible to send an email message without the IP address of at least some of the servers through which it traveled appearing in its headers.

  18. Fixed!

    It would appear that now craigslist is anonymizing email addresses in both directions. Or at least that seems to be the case as of sometime this week as sometime in the last 6 days, I’ve gone from receiving replies from personal addresses to now receiving a reply from an automated email address! W00t!

    1. jik Post author

      I don’t think you’re correct. I just posted an ad to Craigslist and then sent email to the anonymized email address created for the ad. When I received that email, it had my real email address in the header, and when I replied to the email, my reply went to my real email address, not an anonymized address.

      1. BooBoo

        The same has been happening to me! So far I have recieved 10 + such replys that I am sure contain porn like the first one did OMG who wants to see that crap ..l. not me. I am making a list of the return name (do not know if that will help) and am sending to FBI unless someone has a better idea because on the first couple I got I reported to craigs list but NOTHING has happened besides I keep getting them. Please if there has been a way discovered to stop this let me know!

  19. Craig

    I find that replying with an insert of the Homeland Security logo without comment (not misrepresenting myself) tends to vaporize Nigerians.

  20. Mel

    Would I would recommend for all of you, is to create a second email account with a fake name:
    Ex: Craigs List
    *Or something of similiar nature, or just use a completely different name*

    Type it in as if it were you real name when signing up for the new email account. Also, Put in false information that could potentially protect you if someone were to hack your email account. (Birthdays, Address, Phone #)
    This information doesnt have to be real in order to create and account. This is a simple way to protect yourself and your information.

  21. Greg

    Jared has a good solution. I have another: I created an e-mail address which automatically deletes all replies. If I’m unsure whether a craigslist reply is legit or not, I’ll reply to the sender using this address as my return address, and tell them if they are interested in the item to contact me through the craigslist ad. It has become increasingly obvious which replies are bogus and which ones merit a reply (the vast majority are bogus).

  22. Mike

    Ha Ha. I just went through a series of emails with a guy, scammer, and he finally gave up.

    i started with asking him why his name was chris thomas, his email was something else and the return address was completely different.

    he replied back with the usual bs about the ‘item’ and I again asked how he was supposed to come and get it.

    he then started in on the ‘my agent’ thing and I gave up. I told him i have had enough fun but playing with nigerians over email was way more fun.

    here’s the best part… he actually asked me if I would join him in scamming others because i caught him so fast.

    LOL. Love screwing with them.

    however, i do wish the porn/sex sites emails would stop. Every single time i either renew or post a new for sale I get them. Sick and a waste of my time deleting several a day.


    1. Jan

      Yea, I started getting them on an add a few months ago, let my Craig’s list add lapse thinking that would stop them but they’re still coming.
      That’s why I’m here checking to see what I can do about it.
      I did now learn about the one’s where you get the “is this still for sale blurb” and what that’s about….thanks

  23. TC

    I get the same stupid emails asking if “still available” or a copy of my ad. I just don’t respond. I do not put my actual email address on CL for that reason.

  24. Aurelia

    I have the exact same issue. Has anyone found a solution to stop the e-mails from coming back ? Does it stop after a while ? I won’t do the same error again, but I don’t want to shut off my email address yet…

  25. rmf

    I am so sick of craigslist! It used to be a great site. but now if you post an add for ANYTHING 90% of the responses are from these so called spammers and scammers! I will no longer use craigslist because of it.

    Anyone know of the next up and coming site? with maybe more internet safety controls?

    1. jason burke

      rmf, you can use to create your profile and then spammers are blocked and ONLY legit buyers will be coming through as they also have to be verified. It’s a good way to end the spam harassment. But like anything new, it takes users to start adopting solutions like these to avoid the headaches. Give it a try on your next post and let me know how it goes for ya!

      I’ve done 6 deals like this and it only saw the buyers that mattered.

  26. Rosie

    The easiest thing to do is to have another e-mail address that doesn’t reveal your real name. When I signed up for online dating sites, I made an alternate e-mail, so I could get a chance to vet the “gentlemen” before telling them my real name or give them a chance to Google me and find my address or phone number. Safety first.

  27. David

    Thank you for your blog. I just started receiving these responses and knew something was up also. Craigs SHOULD DO SOMETHING !

    1. Jan

      I agree, I think Craigs list should do something to clean up their site. I know I’ll stop using it soon if they don’t.
      All this “porn” and scammer kinda stuff is just wasting lots of my time.
      3 to 4 a day from only 1 posting.

  28. susan

    Oh yeah. Forgot to mention in my earlier post that some foreigner actually sent me a phone text (with his number of course) and I called it. He sent the usual (is this item still available?) crap and I proceeded to call him. He was speechless. I asked where he lived and he said in Missouri, I believe. I am near Atlanta posting on the Athens Craigslist. I asked him how he would actually pick up a sofa this far and he responded (in a blurred attempt at English) that he would send an “associate” oh yeah “an associate” to get it. I also asked him why he would purchase a sofa he had never seen and had no questions about its condition, anything, he was just stunned in general that I was “on it”. Not some little Grandma that was inviting him to her home, and wanted to be kind and polite, just “on it” knowing that he was trying to scam. Oh now I’ll get the “he now has your number” He could find out where you live responses. I could care less. Thats what law enforcement is for. You folks have got to start fighting fire with fire. It really makes them go away. I haven’t heard from him since. But I still have his number!

    1. jik Post author

      Susan, I have nothing against people who want to play mindgames with the scammers, and I agree with you that there is little risk in doing so, but the issue I wrote about here is not about scammers, it’s about spammers.

      1. susan

        Its not that I want to, and I get where you are coming from. I wish I didn’t have to. Believe me! I was gone last week and came home hoping my emails would have sent me at least one legitimate interest in the 8 or so items I have on Craigslist. I have sold many things on there, and as someone else said, you just have to be patient. But all I got was about 6 or 8 pics or young girls asking for a good time. Must be something new. Silly, absurb, but maybe new. They read something like, I would like to see the “item” you have listed, I will be in your area and am lonely and would like to get together. Out of say 8, I only responded to one. After that deleted the rest. They’ll always be something new coming up with these fools. But I can guarantee, if you let them know that you are onto them, you can at least eliminate the repeats.

  29. susan

    But why not reply? I have a ball with mine and never get any response back. Theres nothing like coming in after a hard day at work and seeing the usual attempt at a scam in the making such as “nice sofa for sale, recently reupholstered” What they do is skim the ads and send an email quoting exactly what my item is in the item line. No specific questions about it, just quoting exactly what I have as my item heading. I also get the stupid, and I’m sorry you would have to be stupid not to realize they are trying to scam you when they put is this ITEM still available? I didn’t at first (and was stupid) but now I just have fun with them. They are likely the same person or persons because I get the same thing 4 times a day on one item and each one is a different name. I literally cuss them up one side and down the other, but with humor (wish you could read some). I write things to make them go “huh”? This last idiot I actually quoted their name (ficticious I’m sure) and asked Hey Bernie, didn’t I go to school with you? How have you gotten to this stage in your life? Have fun with it. I don’t hear back twice from any of them. They’re stunned! Only heard back from one guy named John when I asked WTF ITEM are you referring to? Trying to scam again? He responded with “What’s wrong with you?” I in turn responded with a legitimate response of why we answer like we do because we keep getting potential scammers and never heard back again. So that “item” he said he was interested in, HE WASN’NT! SO PLEASE FOLKS, QUIT BEING SO POLITICALLY CORRECT AND LILLY LIKE, FIX THE CRAZY WITH CRAZY. IT’S FUN! I liken it to The Vent forum on here in Atlanta. Somebody writes in “I was in a restaurant yesterday trying to have a nice meal and some kid behind my booth kept standing up and touching me with his dirty hands from behind and the parents did nothing.” Really? Why would’nt this guy have just said something to the parents and nipped it in the bud. What’s wrong with everyone. People are wimps, hiding behind their PCS. They want to do harm to others, anonomously of course. When you come back and snap like a pit bull, they quit, or at least they’ve got something to think twice about before doing it again. It’s simple. Let them have it! Release some steam that these idiots cause us. Afraid you’ll be reported to the Craigslist Morality Team? They don’t have one. Otherwise they would try to clean this up better. Enjoy!

    1. jik Post author

      But why not reply?

      Um, because if you do, you’re confirming to a spammer that your email address is live and possibly giving them your real name as well.

      But hey, if you’ve got a good spam filter and you think it’s fun to waste your time having a battle of wits with an unarmed man, by all means, knock yourself out.

      1. susan

        My goodness WHO CARES? Are you really going to live in a world where we can’t type the next letter without worrying someone has your email address. Heck, by now, they could have my physical address. We live in the wimpest world. I am a woman and saying that. I am a feminine woman and saying that! I call out the customer service reps when it gets so bad and they are giving me the wrong information. I ask for their supervisor. I ask the supervisor to listen to the conversation the rep and I had (recorded for quality control right?). Out of 5 customer service conversations in a week, I may have one that makes my blood boil. I don’t let others know about it, I go straight to the source, their supervisor, or higher up and take care of it there. I hear friends and family talk about their woes with customer service and they just get so hot under the collar that I feel they’ll have an aneurysm. Please. Go through life being who you know you are. Friendly, confident, helpful. But when someone throws a wrench in your day…my gosh get some backbone. This shredding documents, living behind our P C’s thinking “well, I want to get out there and send emails, texts, etc. but I’m so afraid that someone will know who I am.” Good grief get a grip. I could look up anyones physical address and see an aerial view of their home on mapquest. You’ve got to relax and snap back a little. Otherwise these idiotic folks are boxing you into a scared state always looking over your shoulder. What a sad way to live.

        1. jik Post author

          Susan, I’m all for fighting back and standing up for yourself, but there is a difference between being scared and being careful.

          1. jason burke

            Well, it’s like identity theft. You shouldn’t be too careless with your info out there. So if there are ways to efficiently and effectively protect yourself without having to constantly be “looking over your shoulders” and jumping through hoops then wonderful! As I shared with RMF above there are services that are free to deal with the Nigerian contingents (not sure if they’re from just Nigeria)

        2. Patrick


          you are my kind of woman. Tired of all these BS artists bullying people and thinking they are above the world. Be nice, friendly, but don’t take crap from anyone.

    2. Melissa

      Hahaha! You go Susan! I just said the same thing when i again got the same email from the same guys but he changed where he was from… I said to myself “this is going to be fun to reply to him!” and i had fun with it! Then I found this posting and had to laugh!

  30. Anonymous

    I have been receiving emails with first line of my ad in response to my CL ad … At first I thought the person forgot to enquire about it and I would reply back asking ‘Are you interested to buy the item?’. But now I have been receiving many such mails … Is this a scam … Should I reply o such emails … ?

    1. jik Post author

      Those emails are the scam this blog posting refers to. The most obvious indication of this is that these emails have a Reply-To header which differs from the From header. You probably should not reply to such emails. Alternatively, see this comment and the reply to it for two ways you can reply safely on the off chance that it’s a legitimate reply.

  31. Trey

    Lately it’s fake-cashier’s-check scams. Whatever you’re selling, the check will be for too much and the explanation will be that a “courier” or other 3rd party will be picking up the item. If a car, it will be the “flatbed truck driver”, if services, it will be “the cab company who will take me to your lessons studio”. You will be asked to deposit the check and the funds will post to your account until the forgery is detected. In the interim, you will be advised to withdraw part of your apparent “windfall” and send it to the “flatbed/taxi driver” via Western Union or Money Gram. Then the fake check bounces and your account is negative and the cash you wired is irretrievable.

    I advertise on CL that I teach guitar and bass guitar lessons and have collected 45+ fake checks by wasting the scammers’ time, pretending to believe the ruse. I tie them up with questions about musical equipment-acoustic or electric guitar?-when they’re trying to discuss the money. They claim that there is a “nanny” that needs the overpayment because “she” is taking care of “the minor” student. I always run them around with phony WU/MG “money transfer control numbers” then tell them that I knew it was a scam all along. As the intended victim of a scam, I do not chose to play by normal scambaiting rules. I burn them, which is a no-no on “419 eater”.

    1. Jared

      I have been getting responses to my post asking if the it is still available.

      Now I don’t know if these are legitimate or not but I don’t want to test and find out but if they are legitimate I would like to sell the stuff.

      So here is what I have done.
      Go to You can put in the email address that you got when they replayed to your post (there email address). Then you can put in your craigslist email address for that item, either from the post or when people respond to my post it comes up as the to address in my email client. I copy and past this into the senders email address (it usually is a bunch of numbers

      Now if they reply back it will go back through the craigslist scam detection system and to your email just like the first reply. I will do this until I can talk to someone on the phone.

      I wish craigslist would do something similar.

      I hope this helps some out there.

      1. jik Post author

        I’ve been doing essentially the same thing, but configuring the anonymized Craigslist email address for each ad that I post as a separate identity in Thunderbird. The added advantage of this is that when I reply in Thunderbird to a message sent to that anonymized address, Thunderbird is smart enough to notice the address the message was sent to, and notice that it’s the address of one of my identities, and set the From field of my reply to that address automatically.

  32. J.R.

    This same thing happened to me today three times.

    I have NOT replied to them and I suggest that anyone that comes across this issue do the same.

    Excellent post.

  33. Pingback: New technique from the Craigslist spammers « Something better to do

  34. Tim

    This problem seems to just have started recently because I usually posting things for sale on craigslist every month or 2 and I haven’t seen it til now. I knew something “phishy” was going on. lol !!!!!!

  35. Drew

    Thanks for posting about this. I receive a LOT of these type emails from craigslist ads, and figured they were scams. But when searching to verify they were ads, your article is all I was able to find about it.

    Thanks for helping assure me they are scam emails. I have not replied to them, but always wondered.


    1. Beverly

      I don’t know how in the world they did this, but after I responded to one of the scams, to tell them how stupid they were, they got my Email address AND MY PASSWORD for Craig’s List. They began to put hugh items up for sale on my account. They had to have hacked Craig’s list to get my password. It took me HOURS to go to gobs of sites and change my password everywhere. I had no idea what they had found out about me. I now NEVER respond to the 5 or 6 responses I get everyday. Wish Craig’s List would grow a pair.

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