At the moment, I have no less than six different tabs open in my browser, each searching Craigslist for different items I need this spring: trailers, boats, patio furniture, musical instruments, and exercise equipment. Every day I refresh my search results, looking for the best deal. I’m confident that I’ll find what I’m looking for. Patience is the key.

Millions are doing the same thing. And unfortunately, many of them are being scammed out of their money as sellers provide explanations as to why an item is being sold, ranging from “not needed” to “my son died.”

A North Carolina woman and her mother were looking for a used car on Craigslist and found an “amazing, like, this can’t be true, deal.” The daughter contacted the seller, who replied with, “Automatic transmission. It’s in perfect condition. Exterior no scratches. Interior no rips, tears, stains.” The seller asked for $3,900, and added that the car had belonged to her son, who had died in a bike accident, and she wanted to sell the car quickly because it brought back difficult memories.

Meanwhile, the mother found a similar deal on a different car, and the seller had a nearly identical story. This raised red flags and both mother and daughter cut off communications with the scammers. They were lucky.

This type of scam works because people can relate to the awful story and are more inclined to help when someone seems to be in distress.

Craigslist could prevent the majority of these scams easily by leveraging device reputation management. Many Craigslist scammers are based in Ghana, Nigeria, Romania, Korea, Israel, Columbia, Argentina, Philippines and Malaysia. These countries breed scammers who spend their days targeting consumers in the developed world. But real-time device reputation checks such as those offered by iovation can detect computers that have been used for auction fraud (and expose all of the accounts the device or group of devices is associated with) providing the ability to shut down sophisticated fraud rings and thousands of accounts immediately

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation, discusses another databreach on Fox News. Disclosures

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