The New Plague of Spam Afflicting Craigslist

Sold anything on Craigslist lately? If you have then you’ve experienced the new spam plague. I’m sure we’ve all become familiar with the various scams promising to pay you more than you’re asking for your item if you’ll only ship it to someplace in Eastern Europe or West Africa. The new plague doesn’t pose as great a risk to your finances, but it does clutter up your inbox with time-wasting crud. You put in an ad and along with the actual buyers comes a flood of email that has nothing to do with your advertisement. I’ve been using Craigslist for years and the volume of spam with this new plague is the worst I’ve seen yet.

For me it stared with several emails displaying nothing more than a link. I hit one of the links and was taken to a website that had nothing to do with the item I was trying to sell. One was a porn site. The other purported to be an online news site. I’m slow but I usually catch on after the first hit or so and I started deleting similar emails.

As the spammers’ integrity eroded and their frustration increased the emails became longer. One favorite said that while they were interested in buying my computer (I wasn’t selling a computer), they thought that the price might be a bit high. They asked me to check by clicking on a link. But they also assured me of their intent to buy even if I was asking more (then why would I bother to click on the link?). Another claimed he was “sincerely interested” but would I please click on this link first; he didn’t explain why that would bring him beyond being merely “sincerely interested.” I’m ashamed to admit I doubted his sincerity and didn’t click on the link.

The stories got more detailed. One of the most common was the one where the spammer claimed that the link they were trying to lure me to was the one that had changed their lives forever. They were homeless or worse until they stumbled over that link. They all seemed to think I was selling something on Craigslist because I was out of a job and needed the money (actually I’m cleaning out my garage before my wife leaves me). If I would only click on this particular link “you’ll thank me later!” they’d say. Apparently like them I would then want to share my good fortune with others. One said she couldn’t tell from the “pics” on my advertisement if the video was the same as the one on the link she was pushing (I wasn’t selling a Video and there were no “pics.”) She suggested I download an flv plug-in to view the video. I probably won’t.

My all time favorite was from a spammer that promised to keep it short and sweet and then went on for 275 more words. He was unique: he said that if I was interested he’d be glad to send me several links to look over before deciding if I wanted to go into business with him. I haven’t gotten around to it 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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