Monday Jan 17, 2022

The new spam plague afflicting Craigslist

Did you sell anything on Craigslist lately? If so, then you have experienced the new spam plague. I’m sure we’ve all become familiar with the various scams that promise to pay you more than you are asking for your item if you only ship it somewhere in Eastern Europe or West Africa. The new infestation doesn’t pose a huge risk to your finances, but it clutters your inbox with time-wasting garbage. You put up an ad, and along with the actual buyers comes a flood of emails that have nothing to do with your ad. I have been using Craigslist for years and the volume of spam with this new plague is the worst I have seen yet.

For me, it started with multiple emails showing nothing more than a link. I accessed one of the links and was directed to a website that had nothing to do with the item I was trying to sell. One was a porn site. The other was intended to be an online news site. I’m slow, but I usually notice after the first hit and started deleting similar emails.

As spammers’ integrity eroded and their frustration increased, emails grew longer. A favorite said that although they were interested in buying my computer (I was not selling a computer), they thought the price might be a bit high. They asked me to verify by clicking on a link. But they also assured me of your intention to buy even if I was ordering more (so why would I bother clicking the link?). Another claimed he was “sincerely interested”, but could you click this link first? he did not explain why that would take him beyond simply being “genuinely interested.” I am ashamed to admit that I doubted his sincerity and did not click the link.

The stories became more detailed. One of the most common was the one in which the spammer claimed that the link they were trying to attract me to was the one that had changed their lives forever. They were homeless or worse until they stumbled upon that link. Everyone seemed to think I was selling something on Craigslist because I was out of a job and needed the money (actually, I’m cleaning my garage before my wife leaves me). If I just clicked on this particular link, “you’ll thank me later!” they would say. Apparently, like them, I would like to share my good luck with others. One said she couldn’t tell from the “photos” of my ad if the video was the same as the link I was posting (I wasn’t selling a video and there were no “photos”) download a flv plug-in to view the video . I probably won’t.

My all-time favorite was from a spammer who promised to be short and concise and then followed up with 275 more words. He was unique – he said if he was interested he would be happy to send me several links for me to review before deciding if I wanted to do business with him. I haven’t gotten to that yet!

Craigslist is one of the most useful sites on the entire web. Too bad it attracts so many scammers and spammers.

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