Craigslist Nashville: How to safely shop for tickets, cars, apartments and more (2024)

Mary Hance|The Tennessean

Craigslist Nashville: How to safely shop for tickets, cars, apartments and more (1)

Craigslist Nashville: How to safely shop for tickets, cars, apartments and more (2)

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Great deals sometimes come with greatrisks, according to Metro Police Fraud Unit Sgt. Michael Warren,who said his department is swamped with reports of scams associated withtransactions arranged through Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace andother online person-to-person sale sites.

"We deal with 150-200 reports a week, and a large portion of them are these (Craigslist/Facebook Marketplace scams)," Warren said, as he encouraged prospective buyers to be cautious and to look for red flags.

"The scams happen every day," the detective said. "It is true what my grandmother said, 'If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.'

"Just this week we took down a guy who was selling a stolen cell phone," Warren said, noting that with so many phone thefts from cars and purses, the supply of available stolen phones is enormous.

When a deal goes bad, his department ends up with two victims — the person from whomthe phone was stolen, and theperson who unknowingly buys a stolen phone.

Beware of ticket deals

"Buying tickets — concert tickets, Titans tickets, TPAC tickets — this wayis such a risky thing. People send money via an app, and they never get the tickets; or they get fake ones,"Warren said.

He recalled a Taylor Swift concert in Nashville where there were more than 50 reports of people being scammed.

Industry statistics estimate that ticket fraud affects nearly 5 million concert or event attendees annually.

Real estate scams

Warren's unitgets a lot of reports of real estate scams, where the "bad guy" copies a legitimate real estate listing for a rental or sale and duplicates it for Craigslist or other sites, changing the contact information.

When a prospect is in touch, the "bad guymakes them a sweetheart deal like $700 a month for an apartmentand preys on the urgency to get a deposit or month's rent for a property that is not theirs" to sell or rent.

"They are preying on the high demand for (affordable) housing in Nashville," Warren said.

Take your time

In addition to the desire to get a bargain, victims are often swayed by "fear and urgency" that sellers instill as they pressure toward a purchase,Warren said. Acommon tactic is to make the buyer feel like they have to make a decision that minute to get the deal.

"A lot of things go unreported because people are embarrassed,"he said. Many victims tell detectives, "I can't believe I fellfor this."

Used cars, which has a list of seven tips to keep you safe when buying on Craigslist,said when buying a used car to "have a mechanic inspect it before you buy it. Also make sure the seller provides the paperwork that proves that they're the owner of the car — or you might have trouble registering it in your name."

Test driving the caris smart, too, and Warren encourages buyers to pay the modest fees to run CarFax on the car to get vital information about it.

Sellers beware

Sellers need to beware too, with the fraud unit seeing lots of fake money in these transactions.

"They sell whatever it is and get home with five $100 bills and find out it is 'motion picture money'," counterfeit money that looks authentic and is sold by the bundle for a pittance.

There are also cases where a seller is showing aprospective buyer a phone or piece of jewelry and the buyer just grabs it and takes off."Snatch and grab is what they do," Warren said.

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Sgt. Warren's tips

Meet in a public place, preferably one that has video, in case of trouble. Some buyersmeet their sellers in police precinct parking lots, which is good since there is video there. It is also a good choice because ifsomeone is less than above board they may not agree to showing up at the cop shop.

Make sure you are getting what you bargained for. Warren recalled a case where a seller offered an iPad for a great price and displayed itwrapped in plastic, lookinglike a nice new iPad. When the buyer got home and removed the wrapper, they discovered it was just a piece of glass doctoredto look like an iPad. Buyers shoulddo theirresearch about the product ahead of the meetup, sothey will know if they are getting the real thing.

Beware of sending money in advance of receivingapurchase.Chances are you won't see your money again or the purchase.

Safety in numbers. If you are meeting someone to make a purchase, bring a friend. Not only will you have a witness if things go awry, but having a companion may offer you some protection. said, "If no one's available, make sure to let them know where — and who — you are meeting."

Know who you are dealing with. Warren said that often when they detectives askavictimwho it was, "they say, 'Jerome', or 'Chris'and when we ask for a last name, they saythey just got a first name." Warren recommends asking to see a drivers license, so you can see the name and a picture to know who you are buying from. Also know that many scammers use prepaid, throw away cell phones,leaving no trace of their real identity.

"Consider using Paypal or Squareinstead of cash, especially if it is a large amount. If they are reluctant, it may not be a good sign," Warren said. "It also leaves a few breadcrumbs for us to follow."

Protect your personal information. He says not to give out your address or workplace or any other information that would put you at risk for identity theft.

Never go to anyone's residence.Never allow someone to go with you to your ATM. And never allow a buyer to set up a payment plan.

Trust your instincts. Thepennyhoarder.comsaid, "Go with your gut. It's a red flag if the seller doesn't want to meet you in certain places or won't give you further details on the product."

Report the incident. If you are robbed or swindled, contact the police and whatever site where the transaction originated. He also suggested posting the incident on social media to warn other prospective victims.

Reach Ms. Cheap at 615-259-8282 or Follow her on Facebook at, and at, and on Twitter @Ms_Cheap, and catch her every Thursday at 11 a.m. on WTVF-Channel 5’s “Talk of the Town.”

Craigslist Nashville: How to safely shop for tickets, cars, apartments and more (2024)
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