Understanding craigslist rental scams

Youngsam Park, Damon McCoy, Elaine Shi

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


    Fraudulently posted online rental listings, rental scams, have been frequently reported by users. However, our understanding of the structure of rental scams is limited. In this paper, we conduct the first systematic empirical study of online rental scams on Craigslist. This study is enabled by a suite of techniques that allowed us to identify scam campaigns and our automated system that is able to collect additional information by conversing with scammers. Our measurement study sheds new light on the broad range of strategies different scam campaigns employ and the infrastructure they depend on to profit. We find that many of these strategies, such as credit report scams, are structurally different from the traditional advanced fee fraud found in previous studies. In addition, we find that Craigslist remove less than half of the suspicious listings we detected. Finally, we find that many of the larger-scale campaigns we detected depend on credit card payments, suggesting that a payment level intervention might effectively demonetize them.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationFinancial Cryptography and Data Security - 20th International Conference, FC 2016, Revised Selected Papers
    EditorsBart Preneel, Jens Grossklags
    PublisherSpringer Verlag
    Number of pages19
    ISBN (Print)9783662549698
    StatePublished - 2017
    Event20th International Conference on Financial Cryptography and Data Security, FC 2016 - Christ Church, Barbados
    Duration: Feb 22 2016Feb 26 2016

    Publication series

    NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
    Volume9603 LNCS
    ISSN (Print)0302-9743
    ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


    Other20th International Conference on Financial Cryptography and Data Security, FC 2016
    CityChrist Church

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Theoretical Computer Science
    • General Computer Science


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