Craigslist: Beneficial Community or Evil Scam Quagmire?

When it comes to renting a property these days, the main advertising focus is through online venues such as Zillow, Trulia, and, to name a few big players.  These sites are trustworthy sources of information because of systems that safeguard against fraud.  Most importantly, not just anyone can post a listing.
But even these sites are not totally hack-proof, and on rare occasions a highly motivated and devious infiltrator will sabotage the system with a fraudulent listing.  Unfortunately this is a negative by-product of the online world.
With Craigslist, the risk is far greater.  As a free community, everyone can post on any forum.  This is a great concept and a hugely helpful and unifying resource.  But I can tell you, when a scammer steals my listing and posts it with a different rent amount, I do not feel the love.  Not only are scammers hurting the person they scam, but they hurt my business too.  Not to mention the damage caused by undermining the integrity of the rental industry, and the Craigslist community.
Just a side note here – when someone on Craigslist tells you they’re “a new owner who’s inexperienced with renting” or that they “recently had to move out of town, to Nigeria” or some other insanely remote location, or “just mail me the deposit and I will send you the keys“, their grammar is atrocious, the rent is far too good to be true or you find it listed elsewhere for more money, and especially if they won’t meet you in person, you’ve probably stumbled on a scam.  Do not send these people any money.
So, what’s to be done?  Craigslist is still a huge source for renters and other consumers, and it’s hard to pass it up when you advertise your rental property.  I admit, I use Craigslist in a personal capacity, but I can accept that risk for myself.
Real Property Management does not post listings on Craigslist (unless specifically requested to do so), because we can’t in good consciousness subject our owners or tenants to the potential embarrassment and frustration of being scammed.  If you’re a tenant looking for a property to rent, know the warning signs of a scam and be cautious if something feels “off” or unusual.  And don’t forget to FLAG the posting, to save someone else the trouble!
The threat is real, so beware!