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State officials warn of Craigslist scams hitting the midwest


MADISON, Wis. (WSAU) - Officials with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection are reminding residents to be careful when shopping for items on Craigslist.

The online ad service has become a hotbed for scammers looking to make money off of you. DATCP spokesman Jerad Albrecht says a recent rash of postings have been scams aiming at getting you to put money in an escrow account to make a purchase. "They give you a story as to why they can't come get the money from you immediately and tell you to use one of these services." But once the victim puts any money in the account, it's gone and there's no way to get it back.

Albrecht says you should use the same level of security for online ads as you would in any listing in the back of a newspaper. "Don't send money without seeing the item you're buying, and if you're going to meet the other party, do so in a public place."

Other scams include using a wire transfer or prepaid credit card to make purchases, or sending you a phony check for more than the value of the item. This is called a fake check scam. If the bank cashes the bad check and you send the money to the scammer, you will be responsible for paying it back in full to the bank when it is found to be fake days or weeks later.

You can find out more ways to keep yourself safe online at datcp.wisconsin.gov.