Online Classified Scams: 10 Ways “They Could Never Happen To Me”

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I saw an ad looking for an tutor for English as a Second Language. School-age boy, in town about a month, rate $50/hr. In less than four hours, I determined it was a scam. Crud. That could have been a good job, had it been real.

Fortunately, I was not scammed. Here are some very valuable precautions I took in order to prevent losing a small fortune.

Do not give any information in an email

If your information is available online, like a newspaper classified or yellow pages ad, link to it. Don’t repeat it in the email, even in the signature.

Do an online search for the name or company

Sometimes sites like RipOff Report will have information on scam artists.

Only negotiate terms of the contract after sufficient introductions

I have learned not to discuss rates, hours, or potential study times until suitable and trusted contact has been made, usually by an initial visit.

Only schedule meetings in public places for introductions

If you have responded to an ad looking for services you provide, the advertiser is doing the interview, not you.

Never agree to accept any responsibility for the advertiser

Do not hold merchandise, distribute funds, or accept pre-payment for services yet unrendered. Checks can bounce, leaving any distribution or refunds coming out of your pocket.

Wait an entire day to send a reply via email

Scammers want your info quickly so they can cut ties with you. Really interested posters will be willing to wait for a reply.

Talk about your correspondence

If you share your experiences with your spouse, sibling, parent or friend, something may surface that suggests something fishy.

Check listings in neighboring areas

If the advertiser is searching throughout your whole state, they’re really not looking for a local service.

Look back at the listings the next day

If that listing has been removed, or more like it have been repeated, cease contact. A legitimate lister didn’t like you or your offer, and a scammer just wants as many responses as possible.

Do not give any advertiser the benefit of the doubt

If you doubt, stay out. As the provider, you have the right to refuse service to anyone.

If you have determined it is a scam:

Block the address from your email account

  • Call your local non-emergency dispatch
  • File at the Internet Crime Complaint Center (
  • Check the online classified service for reporting procedures and other avenues
  • Keep records: print the emails, or file them electronically
  • And really, if by the random off-chance, this had been a legitimate listing, I don’t feel bad for losing the opportunity, nor do I feel bad about the actions I took reporting this as a scam. The innocent should appear less fishy. If nothing else, they should give me a name and phone number so I could call them to discuss things in person. Otherwise, they should explore other avenues to secure services. I’m not being over-reactive. I’m just using my protective senses.

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    4 Responses to Online Classified Scams: 10 Ways “They Could Never Happen To Me”

    1. Texas Girl says:

      I don’t get it? How was this a scam? What were they trying to gain, and HOW? I’m confused.

    2. Ann says:

      The details of the particular scam I avoided by taking the steps I outlined in the article were that the funding party wanted me to receive a check for both my pay in advance and a nameless “Nanny” in order to distribute the funds.

    3. Not Funny says:

      There are LOTS of scams theses days!

      “Work at home! Earn easy money!”

      “Canadian Pharmacy! Cheap prescriptions!”

      “Find Love Online! Girls waiting to meet you!”

      Right now, I am advertising for a roommate to help boost my income.
      I get responses from people who state they would like to send me a cashiers check for the deposits + the first months rent.
      They will write it for a larger amount and ask for the balance to be sent back to them.
      What they are hoping next is that I cash the check at my bank and receive the funds.
      A few days later, the banks notifies me that the check bounced, and that I must pay back the funds from my own pocket.
      Needless to say, the check would be in a substanial amount and I would be left accountable and holding the bag, so to speak!

      These scams are from con artists that are finding an easy way to make ca$h from their computer!



    4. Kristian says:

      I recently saw someone advertising on craigslist to sell a cell phone, The ad read ‘compare to i-phone’ and they were asking $200. When I looked closer I realized they were selling a Samsung i700. A 5 or 6 year old, GIANT-SIZED PDA phone… Not comparable to an i-phone at all, and worth about $50. Not a scam per se, but a good reason to watch yourself when shopping online.

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