How do I Spot a Craigslist Bot?

By Robert Schrader

Craigslist is an web-based classifieds marketplace where users buy and sell goods, advertise property and even seek out romance within their communities. Not everyone who uses Craigslist, however, is actually a person. In fact, some Craigslist ads are generated by automated robots -- also known as "bots" -- that post ads with the intention of misleading and deceiving honest users. Scrutinize ads that seem suspicious prior to responding to them to avoid being scammed.

Step 1

Analyze the language of the post in question to see if it seems mechanical or repetitive in nature. If there are bizarre or awkward phrasings throughout, repeated "catchphrases" or conspicuous plugs for specific goods and services that seem otherwise unrelated to the ad, the poster may be a spammer.

Step 2

Look out for posts that are word-for-word duplications of one another. If you see two or three posts that are the same, it's possible that a single user has posted them on different sections of the site, but once you start seeing dozens of identical postings, you be almost positive a Craigslist bot is to blame.

Step 3

Beware any instantaneous replies you receive after responding to a Craigslist posting. If you send a user an email and notice a reply in your inbox within a few seconds, you can be sure an automated robot is to blame for having sent it.

Step 4

Flag suspicious posts as "Spam" to alert Craigslist about potential bots. Unless Craigslist is aware of potentially harmful posts -- and it does explicitly prohibit them -- it can't do anything about them. Click "Flag This Posting" in the top, right corner of suspect posts to see your options for reporting them.