Craigslist is a staple of my internet experience, even though I have a love/hate relationship with it. I love it because lots of people use it faithfully and the deals and the ability to recycle opposed to buy new or throw away. I hate it because people who use it are often unreliable and the persistent security issues.

There are no shortage of scammers and low life thugs who use Craigslist as a platform to dupe and hurt people. Just this week in Boston, Fox News reports “Mother and son used Craigslist to scam people into renting fake apartment”

“Police say a mother and son scammed people out of $4,000 by trying to rent out an apartment that was not theirs. Police believe they took out a Craigslist ad and took deposits for an apartment they were living in for a short time. Medford police say they have received at least 4 reports from people saying they fell for the scam. It was not until the first victim’s moving truck arrived that the scam was realized.”

In the same week Bob Sullivan from MSNBC reports “Craigslist ‘robberies by appointment’ turn violent”

“The sleepy suburban neighborhood in Bogota, N.J., looked safe when Michael pulled up to meet the man who had offered to buy his MacBook after seeing an ad on Craigslist. And everything seemed perfectly normal when the buyer walked up to his car and began counting out cash. But then a second man appeared seemingly out of nowhere and shoved a shotgun in Michael’s face.”

Craigslist should be used with caution. People have been robbed, burglarized, scammed and in some cases their homes were invaded and some people have been killed. With Craigslist, be very careful who you contact and who contacts you. You never know who the person is or what their motivation may be.

ID pre meeting. Get their name and cell phone number ahead of time. And call them back to verify. Tell them your brother the cop will be there so they shouldn’t be alarmed when they pull up and see a police cruiser.

Never meet in private. Meet at a public location that involves lots of other people. The more eyeballs the better.

Trust your gut, and don’t discount any troubling feelings you might have about your meeting. If anything seems wrong, then it IS wrong. Cancel if necessary.

Enlist a friend whenever possible. There is strength in numbers. Predators thrive on isolation. By paring up, you reduce the chances of being attacked.

Look street smart. Don’t wear expensive jewelry or provocative clothes. Scarves and loose fitting clothing give attackers something to grab. Wear shoes you can run and kick in

Unaware creates risk. Unfortunately there is risk in meeting someone you don’t know. Being guarded can keep you from getting into a vulnerable situation.

Stay in communication. Make it known to your spouse or a friend where you are going and when you will be back. Have them on your cell phone while you are meeting.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing scammers and thieves on The Big Idea with Donnie Deutsch

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