Maryland Blogger: Craigslist Scams Warning

Craigslist Scams Warning

Craigslist Scams Warning


Montgomery County’s Office of Consumer Protection Warns About Increased Scams Involving Craigslist Around the Holidays

Shopping or selling on Craigslist can be convenient, but Montgomery County’s Office of Consumer Protection has a warning about either end of potential transactions: buyers and sellers beware—especially around the holidays. This open marketplace also contains scams targeting both buyers and sellers.

Eric Friedman, the director of the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection, said scams involving Craigslist can involve transactions as simple as merchandise or as complicated as real estate.

“Although this marketplace is a great way to do direct business for many, it also has opened an entire criminal world of people trying to take advantage of those expecting to simply improve their lives through what they believe to be a great deal that they can make online,” said Department Director Friedman. “And as much as this goes on throughout the year, the holiday season is an especially ripe time for criminals because they try to take advantage of people when they are distracted by many special events, looking for holiday deals or ready to make changes as the new year approaches.”

Director Friedman said those looking to rent a house or apartment need to watch out for fake advertisements. 

In this approach, scammers copy attractive photos from legitimate advertisements and typically offer an unusually low rental price. These ads will contain a story about why the landlord cannot personally meet the tenant at the house or apartment. The prospective tenant is instructed to send the money for the security deposit or first month’s rent to the scammer. In exchange, the prospective renter is told the “landlord” will mail the keys to the tenant or leave the keys at a designated location.

“Some of these ‘it-sounds-to-good-to-be true’ deals end with money being sent for something that never existed,” said Director Friedman. “Rental advertisements may also include phony government documents to convince the prospective tenant that the advertisement is legitimate. Our office investigated a complaint in which the scammer sent a fake document to the consumer inquiring about the rental. This creative scammer made a fictitious ‘Certificate of Occupancy’ to fool the prospective tenant into believing that the rental apartment advertised was properly registered with Montgomery County.” 

Among the false information that was in the document:

  • A reference to the Montgomery County “Department of Public Works” (no such agency exists).
  • Fictitious official names and signatures (the County Government does not have any employees by those names).
  • Fictitious address listed as the issuing office was actually the address of the County Executive’s office.

Sellers also need to be careful on Craigslist, said Department Director Friedman.

“When consumers offer items for sale on Craigslist, it is common for scammers to contact the consumer and pretend to be interested in purchasing the item for sale,” he said. “The fake buyer typically will have a story about why the buyer needs to pay with a check that is made payable for more than the selling price. In return, the scam buyer will instruct the consumer to send a check back to the buyer to return the extra money. Of course, the scam buyer’s check will prove to be worthless and the consumer selling the item will have lost the money sent to the scam buyer or may receive nothing for having sold the advertised item.”

The Craigslist website contains helpful tips about how to avoid several different scams and can be found at

In addition, sellers and buyers in Montgomery County are invited by County Police to conduct transactions at “exchange zones” at Police stations in order to exchange merchandise and payment. 

For additional information about this or other scams, and to file complaints, contact the County Office of Consumer Protection via email at or by phone at 240-777-3636. 


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Roy Kelley, Associate Broker

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Comment balloon 16 commentsRoy Kelley • October 29 2019 03:38PM


Good morning, Roy Kelley I've always stayed off Craig's List.... always...

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) 5 months ago

Good morning Roy. No Craigslist deals for me. Just not my thing. Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) 5 months ago

We don't use Craig's list for lots of this kind of issue.

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) 5 months ago

There are way too many scammers out there, it seems that we come across a scam or multiple scams daily, so sad.

Posted by Brian England, MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ (Arizona Focus Realty) 5 months ago

Good morning Roy. This is very scary and very very important. Thank you for sharing.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) 5 months ago

Good morning Roy - this is very important information.  I am wary of Craig's List.

Posted by Grant Schneider, Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes (Performance Development Strategies) 5 months ago

Roy, I used to use Craigslist, especially when listing condos, until I got a WEIRDO call me.   He then called for a week, just breathing....  Never again.  Great warning.

Posted by Joan Cox, Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time (House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373) 5 months ago

Hello Roy - one needs to stay aware.  At all times.  Things happen.

Posted by Michael Jacobs, Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393 5 months ago

Hi Roy... Craig's List has been such a problem for so long virtually everyone I know stays off of them... sometimes I'm surprised they still exist.

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Realty) 5 months ago


Good warning, and we have been aware of the problems with Craig's list.  We ignore it as if it does not exist.  A

Posted by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy (Napa Consultants) 5 months ago

Craig's List could be a great resource, but sadly like so many other things, scam artists have found a way to ruin it for others.

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) 5 months ago

You've got to be extra vigilant during the holidays. I don't frequent Craigslist anymore for this very reason. Thanks for spreading the word about these scams Roy.

Posted by Debe Maxwell, CRS, The right Charlotte REALTOR! ( | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310) 5 months ago

Roy- goo information to share with your community. We've used Craigslist but are very cautious. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) 5 months ago

Hi @Roy Kelley Thanks for the reminders. I do advertise on Craigslist and it sold one property a few months ago and possibly another property this week.

Now...buying a used snowblower on an online auction...well that $50 bucks may be a lost cause as the snowblower runs but has locked up in neutral after 3 passes across the driveway!!!

Posted by Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker, Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940 (Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska) 4 months ago

Hi Roy,


The old saying applies to Craigslist. "If it's too good to be true, it probably is."

Scammers are out in force everywhere. Someone already tried to send me a Bitcoin scam this morning.  Good post and very useful.


Posted by Matthew Sturkie, CRS, GRI 909-969-3805, CRS, GRI 909-969-3805 (Action Realty) 4 months ago

Your feedback is always welcome and is very much appreciated.

Posted by Roy Kelley (Realty Group Referrals) 4 months ago