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Phishing, Crime, and Online Classifieds

It is no secret that scammers, fraudsters, and criminals target online classified sites. In fact, Security Week, an online publication for all internet and online security news, reported that in 2010’s second quarter, online classifieds made up 6.6% of all online phishing attacks and that this number is on the rise.

“What is phishing?” Phishing is any attempt to get at sensitive information like usernames, passwords, credit card details, and so forth, through misdirection, such a posing a fake website as the legitimate one. The goal is to fool you, often into willingly providing private information and/or funds, and take advantage of weaknesses in online security. Another form of online dishonesty that I have seen is harassment. Fake ads are put up on the site with a target’s phone number; the outcome of course being that this individual is overwhelmed by phone calls and in some cases, house visits, by eager buyers for the fake items that were posted.

Recently, Craigslist has come under fire being accused by Oodle of letting crime run rampant on its website. The Business website, FastCompany, reported on this, releasing an article referring to Craigslist as a”Cesspool of Crime.”

Not only do phishers and other scammers target the people who use Craiglist like they do on, but alarmingly there have been a number of reports where people have become victims of violent crimes following their interactions with the site. While it is reported that criminal transactions over Craigslist are an extreme minimum when coupled with successful and legitimate interactions, the nature and plain existence of these crimes has hurt Craigslist’s reputation, and even spawned the creation of crime-watch websites, for instance, Craigs Crime List.

What are we doing differently? What are we doing to help protect you and your family here at For starters, we feel it is important to keep you informed, which is why we are writing this blogpost. It is also the reason why we have written previous posts alerting you to scams and online safety. For example, Tips for Staying Safe Buying and Selling Online; This Hockey Ticket Scam; or This Email Scam.

After we have armed you with the know-how to help protect yourself, the second line of defense is the automatic removal of ads by the website. This system removes the all the questionable ads from those that don’t quite check-out to those posted by blacklisted scammers. In 2010, 2.6% of all ads posted across all of our websites were weeded out by this automatic check-and-balance system. Next, we have a team of moderators that work their bums off to keep spam, fraud, and crime off of our sites, as well as respond to your questions, concerns, and reports of those problem-ads. Across all 43 sites in Canada, our moderators removed 6.12% of the 2,779,209 ads posted in 2010.


We are able to keep the number of ads removed low and the level of security to you high, largely because of the help you provide us. By clicking on that “Report Ad” button for ads that you know to be illegitimate, we are able to get rid of the rest of those bad ads that sneak through. I have to reiterate how important it is for our users to give us a hand in pointing out scams and unsavory posts on our sites – I personally have received a few alerts about scams related to puppy ads from you guys! Thank you for helping us do our job better and making good use of that “Report Ad” button and our hotline: 1-888-480-3250


is a Social Media and Community Coordinator at Twitter, Facebook, the Blog and the phone are her domains.

3 Responses to “Phishing, Crime, and Online Classifieds”


Hello,I have recently posted an item for sale in your site,shortly after the posting i received a reply from a person that had replied from the site saying she would be interested in buying my item,I had asked this person a few questions regarding the Tofino area-this was just a security question to verify that this person was from the Tofino area,well she failed to answer all my question correctly and went on to ask if i would accept a cheque,very suspicious to me,her email is and is replying via blackberry sent through MTN server which is a south african provider. If i clicked her as a spam or fraud then that would have blocked your site from my computer,I am sure the person will try another name soon.I have had to redo my ads several times because of these scammers,I dont know how else to dodge these scammers,I have been trying to sell my items only to have them scammers ruin the moment,take care and thank for your time.



also got a phishing-type response to an ad “is the item still for sale” – asking if I’d take a cheque email address is rose artest



the email address didn’t display:


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