Friday, October 15, 2010

A Crime That Almost Occurred Involving Craigslist and My Fence

Monday our fence blew down due to high winds, so I contacted a couple of fence repair companies to get quotes. The fence itself is totally fine, but the posts need to be replaced. I spoke to a fence repair company (www.a1texas.info) who eagerly provided me a competitive bid for the repair. After receiving the bid, I sent an email reply at 2:00 pm that said, "Thanks! I'm still waiting to hear back from a few other companies. I'll let you know." At 3:09 pm an ad was posted to Craigslist that said:
i have a 4 year old 8ft fence 56ft that blew over and can be picked up for
free at (my address).......just come by and pick it up
if your in the area
At 7:05 pm, two dudes with a pickup truck showed up at the house and tried to load the fence and haul it away. They were told to leave and I went to search Craigslist and learned about the above ad for the first time. I contacted Craigslist and reported the incident to my local police department. About an hour later, the Craigslist ad was removed and I received a message from Craigslist that identified the poster as using an email address nataliehightower@hotmail.com and an IP address of 70.249.149.120. I found out that 70.249.149.120 matched the IP address of the email correspondence from the above fence repair company.

I reported my findings to the local police department and they paid a visit to the individual, who claimed that he did not post the Craigslist ad, but that an employee of his might have sent it. The police officer called me back about 30 minutes later and said that the individual from the fence repair company called him and told him that what really happened was that his girlfriend posted the Craigslist ad (her name is not Natalie but she apparently used nataliehightower@hotmail.com) in error and he apologized.

Whether this was an attempt at committing a fraud, or a legitimate mistake, I only post this information to demonstrate the benefit of doing a little detective work (contacting the right people, looking at details such as timestamps, IP addresses, and the raw email message source) when you feel like you're getting ripped off. I learned through this experience that if someone posts a Craigslist ad that contains your information, or is otherwise offensive or illegal, the best way is to flag the post, and then send an e-mail to abuse@craigslist.org and legal@craigslist.org with a link to the post (I've also heard if you put "911" in the subject line, that helps). Be safe!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

That's messed up.

Anonymous said...

This crime that almost did occurred did occur The person D***** F****** that came to bid your fence was mad because you didn't call him back for some reason so he took it upon him self to try an get back at you for some weird reason if you want to know more just post again

Brian said...

Interesting article about how Craigslist is becoming synonymous with crime: http://tech.slashdot.org/story/11/02/24/2112208/Study-Calls-Craigslist-a-Cesspool-of-Crime

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