Watch Out for a New Craigslist Scam

Here's how to avoid becoming a victim of the latest con targeting bargain hunters who use this classifieds site., the online classifieds listing for communities across the country, can be a great way to find a good deal on a variety of items, ranging from clothing to furniture to cars. However, the Better Business Bureau is warning bargain hunters that use the site to watch out for a new, elaborate scam.

The scam typically involves listings for big-ticket items, such as a car or boat, at lower-than-average prices. Potential buyers who e-mail the seller are asked to make purchases through a company called Easy Yard Sale. The company has a Web site that looks legitimate, and the seller claims that he is using the company to help quickly sell items he inherited from his deceased father, according to the BBB.

To complete the purchase, buyers are asked to wire money to Easy Yard Sale, which will ship the item. But items are never delivered, and the seller and Easy Yard Sale aren't responding to e-mails, according to the BBB. At last check the Easy Yard Sale Web site was no longer reachable.

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To avoid scams on Craigslist, BBB recommends that you follow these tips:

Meet the seller and see the item.Whenever possible, and especially when you're buying locally, don't purchase anything before you actually see it so you know it exists and is in good condition.

Buy directly from sellers, not escrow or shipping services. According to the BBB, there are other scams involving fraudulent services and companies such as Easy Yard Sale that con artists use to make it difficult for bilked consumers to track payments and get their money back. So if a seller asks you to use a third party, request to make the purchase directly from the seller. If he or she balks, it could be a red flag.

Never wire funds or use a pre-paid debit card. Once you send money using these methods of payment, it's nearly impossible to reverse the transaction or trace the money.

For more on avoiding fraud and identity theft, see our Scams Special Report.

Cameron Huddleston
Former Online Editor,

Award-winning journalist, speaker, family finance expert, and author of Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk.

Cameron Huddleston wrote the daily "Kip Tips" column for She joined Kiplinger in 2001 after graduating from American University with an MA in economic journalism.