Fraud Experts Warn Craigslist Users About Overpayment Scam

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Plenty of Ohio University students use the housing section of Athens Craigslist to locate roommates or find a place to live, but experts warn that students should be cautious when using the website to avoid being ripped off in the process.

Ohio University student Taylor See said she has received a large number of scam e-mails from Craigslist users in her inbox.

While using the website to search for a couple of roommates, she received a suspicious e-mail from a person who says his name is "Robert" and claims that he was born and raised in Virginia.   

See said she doesn't buy his claims, especially since "Robert" has asked for help wiring a substantial amount of money to him. 

"The scammers are very trusting. They try to emotionally bond with the individual, and they seem very trustworthy, and as a result of that, individuals are more susceptible to these types of scams," said Joan Coughlin, a representative from Ohio's Better Business Bureau.

Coughlin said the overpayment scam is the most common of the Craigslist scams.

She warned that a scammer will send a check for more than the housing deposit and ask for the remainder to be wired back. The check then bounces and the Craigslist victim loses big bucks.

Joe Levack is another OU student who has been searching for a roommate on Craigslist.

"You're dealing with [scammers] out of the country, which is always weird. 'Oh, my phone doesn't work because I'm in Guam.' You can't buy a cell phone in Guam? They don't have them there?" said Levack.

He said he believes about half of the emails that he's received are phony.

Craigslist says you can avoid 99 percent of scam attempts if you deal locally with people that you can meet in person, and if someone asks you to wire money, that's another red flag.

The website encourages users to report suspicious activity and to read Craiglist’s tips for avoid scams and fraud.