I bought a car from someone on Craigslist a couple of years ago, and it was a fairly painless process. Yes, there are some people with overpriced cars who are trying to hide defects, but that is par for the used car game. I eventually found a good deal and my wife drives it every day. Now I need a car, and I'm finding CL has changed.
The listings are now filled with scammers offering wonderful deals Ã¢â‚¬â€œ but after you reply, you find that the car is not in Columbus (usually owned by a person in the military), and they want to ship the car to you. You will be scammed if you follow up these deals. It's not hard to figure out these are bogus, but you can waste time reading the ads and replying to these scum. These are the clues to find and avoid bad car listings.
The text of the listing is mainly a bunch of car features. Very little personalization, nothing that pins the ad to the local market, like mentioning local suburbs (although the location in the top header may have a local suburb).
An important bit of info will be missing, the mileage is often not posted. They are fishing for replies, and leaving out important details must improve the rate of reply. It is possible the scam is also to find active mail accounts to sell to traditional spammers, along with getting money from the gullible. If you must reply to an ad that is questionable, use a secondary or throwaway email address.
The photo of the car will be out of season Ã¢â‚¬â€œ summer backgrounds. Almost always four photos. Weird that the scammers can't take the time to do this right.
The admins at CL are clearing these scams off as fast as they are flagged, but the volume is overwhelming. I'm not sure how these could be pre-filtered, but they need to do better, the volume of this noise is making CL tough to use. Hope they can find a solution.
Oh, and if you are selling a medium to small car that is around 5 years old, PM me!