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Posted: 1:15 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011

New warning about bogus Craigslist offers posted by armed criminals



Craigslist can be a great place to buy all kinds of items -- but there's a special warning about cars advertised for sale and a hot new scam targeting would-be buyers. And this one could cost you your life.

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution ran a story about a Lexus on Craigslist that had info, pictures and all kinds of legit-looking supporting evidence when it was advertised for sale. The supposed seller even gave specific info about the car and its history to potential buyers over the phone.

But when people said they wanted to come and test drive the car, the seller claimed they would only accept cash for the full $5,500 asking price. Unfortunately, one unlucky buyer who went to see the car with cash in hand was held up by a gunman and robbed.

This is apparently not an isolated danger. Executive producer Christa is familiar with an incident where there was a cell phone advertised for sale on Craigslist. Police busted a carload of teens that stationed a friend in the woods with a rifle with the intent of also sticking up potential cash buyers who came to buy the phone.  

I don't want you to think Craigslist is radioactive, far from it. But because it's true anarchy, you need to take some common sense precautions.

If you're going to look at any item advertised on Craigslist, make sure you meet in as safe a place as possible. Use your judgment on this one. And know that carrying large amounts of cash to a supposed transaction is a high-risk thing.

Whenever you're buying a used automobile, you always want the VIN number before you go to see that car. With that VIN number, you can know the history of that car. AAA members can buy a short-term membership to CarFAX.com for this purpose. If you're not a member, you can simply go to the site and subscribe. Having the VIN number allows you to run a title search so you can know if the alleged seller who you are going to meet actually has anything to do with that vehicle at all.