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How to Not Be the Next Victim of the Craigslist Killer

Craigslist is a pretty shady website. Some people use it to find prostitutes, drugs, people who can satisfy immediate impulses. Other people use Craigslist to buy and sell unused goods and to find jobs. Unfortunately, as the site's popularity increased over the years, many users tried to find ways to prey on others. There was Philip Markoff, a medical student, who used Craigslist to hire prostitutes and then rob them after using them. Recently, a band of robbers murdered a man after trying to steal a diamond ring from him and his family.

What is the best way to prevent these kinds of things from happening?

First, it is important to note that Craigslist is a pretty useful tool to get things off your hands. I've sold old electronics and other random items on Craigslist with ease. I've typically been able to make a sale by the end of the day for electronics. However, one rule of thumb that I always adhere to, even if the item is being sold for $30, is that I will only meet the person in a public place, whether it's a Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) or a Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT). Even if the item you're selling is extremely expensive, it's much better to wait in a public area to mitigate foul play.

Craigslist is also a breeding ground for spam emailers and phishing websites. If you see something that's too good to be true, there's a very good chance that it is. If you see an iPad from Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) on sale for $200, it is probably a website trying to advertise itself and its cheap prices - hint: the site is probably phishing as well. The reality is, the majority of listings tend to be random spam sites, so use an email address that isn't important to you, one that you wouldn't mind receiving spam too.

Craigslist can be very useful if you use it correctly. While there are many people trying to commit foul play on the site, if you play your cards right, you could easily avoid dealing with them. Remember to use common sense and prudence when trying to seal the deal on a Craigslist transaction.

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