Craigslist and fraud
The AP's running an interview today with Craigslist founder Craig Newmark. Much of the information about his new interest in community journalism -- which AP led with and which is the angle most other sites have breathlessly picked up -- is not particluarly surprising (given all the hints he's been giving out in his blog musings lately, plus earlier interviews with internetnews.com and the Mercury News), but there is one interesting nugget: The wildly popular mostly free classified ad site has so much fraud in New York that it's thinking of charging for apartment ads there:
Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster says fraudulent postings - from Nigerian money laundering scams to solicitations for multilevel marketing pyramids - represent less than one-tenth of one percent of listings. But the New York section is now so rife with con artists that they may begin charging landlords to discourage illegitimate listings.In the internetnews.com interview, Newmark had briefly mentioned some problems with New York brokers, but did not elaborate much. The AP story says Newmark, who sits on a three-member management board, spends about half of his 40-hour workweek sifting through e-mailed complaints of scams and fraud, most of them "bait and switch."
That giant hissing sound you hear in Columbia, by the way, is the air being let out of the local classified ad market. Craigslist has added more cities, among them Columbia. Not sure how long it's been up, but I seem to recall checking a couple weeks ago and not seeing it. It already has 308 services ads, 146 items for sale, 119 housing and 321 personal. That last is interesting, since the personals in the local alternative paper, the Free Times, have dropped noticeably of late. Right now, it looks as though the Columbia site is being used for a lot of listings throughout South Carolina.
I let a few newspaper folks know -- some weren't aware -- this afternoon. The response from most of those I could reach: Thanks for ruining my weekend.
Labels: classified ads