Generally Craigslist is a wonderful information hub for a person looking for a lead on a job, a relationship, their next car, a great deal on a computer or a place to find a pair of concert tickets. It also contains a number of discussion forums where you can sound off on everything ranging from the arts to being an atheist.

But unfortunately Craigslist, is also a place where you can also get ripped off if you are not careful.

That is exactly what has happened to six South Dakotans over the past month-and-a-half who were trying to buy vehicles on Craigslist.

The Better Business Bureau serving South Dakota says the majority of the transactions that went bad involved the use of prepaid cards that were sent to the alleged seller.

One Craigslist victim, a person attempting to buy a trailer claims to have lost $1,500 through a wire transfer to an Amazon account. The seller claimed there were several people interested in the trailer and that she needed to send payment immediately if she wanted it. The woman was told that her money would be held and insured by Amazon until the trailer had been delivered and inspected so both the buyer and the seller would be protected. She never received the trailer and was out the $1,500.

If you plan on pursuing a car deal on Craigslist, the BBB recommends that you always attempt to see the owner and the vehicle before sending any money.

According to Jessie Schmidt with the Sioux Falls branch of the Better Business Bureau, you should try and set up a meeting at your local law enforcement building. Police welcome consumers using Craigslist to come to their parking lot to see the vehicle they're thinking of buying and to meet the owner face to face.

As the BBB reminds us, Craigslist can be a wonderful tool for consumers, you just need to be smart and take the necessary steps to ensure you don't get scammed.

The BBB offers the following advice for persons shopping for vehicles online:

  • Try to deal only with established businesses when looking for a vehicle online. Verify that a business is legitimate and has a physical address. Never send money in advance for a car or truck unless you have thoroughly checked out the seller and are convinced the offer is real.
  • Be especially wary about paying money using wire transfers like MoneyGram or Western Union, or by giving a seller the access code to a Green Dot Moneypak or similar loadable card. Such money transfers are very difficult to trace.
  • If the seller suggests going through a third party, like eBay, to secure the transaction, make certain that you have confirmed the sale through the third party. Never trust that a phone number belongs to a business without verifying it independently. This usually can be done by researching the business’s phone number online and calling it to confirm.
  • Scammers use low prices to lure victims. If the price of a vehicle seems unusually low, it likely is a scheme to steal your money.
  • Pay by credit card whenever possible in the event you need to challenge the charge.
  • Be cautious of purchasing any vehicle without a full inspection.
  • Ask that the seller supply information about the vehicle in writing, including mileage, history and any warranty.
  • Contact BBB at 402-391-78612, 800-649-6814 or for more advice on how to determine whether you are being scammed.

Source: The Argus Leader

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