Madison Police See Rise In Craigslist-Related Scams

Madison police are hoping to stop a growing number of hard-to-reach thieves who scam people using websites such as Craigslist.

Fraud in the online marketplace continues to rise, so finding fraudulent behavior online is nothing new. Police said that as more families look to tighten their budgets, sometimes common sense can take a backseat to some questionable online deals.

Sarah Kooiman said she was looking to sell her wedding dress.

“It’s going to be hard to sell a wedding dress,” said Kooiman. “So if somebody actually contacts you and says, ‘Yes, I’ll pay full price, no problem,’ it can be very tempting.”

And that’s exactly what happened on Craigslist. But she said the response she received seemed suspect.

“The email is going to be off. The syntax and grammar and the way that they wrote was off. And if ever they want you to ship something to Nigeria, run — just run,” said Kooiman.

Something similar happened to Vikas Chowdhry, who was hoping to sell his camera.

“So I posted I had a Nikon D40,” Chowdhry said. “They say, ‘Hey, can you ship this item for me? I’ll pay you ASAP by Paypal.’ And they would try and sweeten the deal by saying, ‘Hey, I will pay you $150 extra for international shipping. But I wanted this item to be shipped tomorrow.'”

The Madison Police Department said its Craigslist-related reports have grown steadily. By the end of 2011, the number of reported scam incidents is projected to more than quadruple since 2008.

Detective Pat Green believes the economy is playing a role.

“With the hard financial times, the people are more apt to kind of accept that deal that’s almost too good to be true, but just at the touch of their fingertips,” said Green.

Kooiman has since posted about her Craigslist experience on her blog. She said several people have responded with similar stories.

As for selling her wedding dress, Kooiman said she will only make the sale if it’s done in person.

“It’s still for sale, if anybody wants it,” said Kooiman.

Madison police will hold a Craigslist seminar on Dec.13 at 6:30 p.m. at the Madison Police Department’s East District. People are asked to RSVP by calling 608-266-4887.