© Norman Sperling, September 5, 2012
The 4th-best apartment-for-rent ad that I answered was also a scam, just as the 3 better ones had been, and (judging from the responding eMail) it was from the same scammer as #2.
Craigslist claims it can't tell. More likely they don't care to bother.
Gmail's spam-spotters sure recognized them. But they just relegated their responses to the spam file, apparently based on the similarity of the wording to a lot of other mail they'd carried that had been flagged before.
I hear that law enforcement won't do much because they can't prove that the location of the offense is within their bounds. Mine all cited "West Africa" ... but why should that be truer than their offerings?
The scammers know that Craigslist hardly hinders them, Gmail merely redirects their mail to a different folder, and law enforcement leaves them alone. They get away with their scams because no one with evidence communicates with anyone else.
As long as Gmail and Craigslist operate in blissful independence, scammers will continue to exploit their hands-off attitude to scam money from the customers of both.
So here's a superb opening for Anonymous and White Hats. They want to right wrongs, don't they? They want to keep the internet open and effective, don't they? The using public should contribute thousands of exemplars, from which patterns could be recognized, from which the number and behavior of scammers can be determined. I suspect there are fewer than 1,000 originators of this misery, and I suspect that >90% can be identified this way.
Cooperate with selected targets (banks, merchants, Craigslist, eBay, ...) and media (eMail, ISPs, portals, ...), track down the crooks, document their takings, build overwhelming legal and moral evidence, and come down so hard on them that they'll not only cave in (and go to jail and pay restitution) but also deter anyone else from even trying. This may also expose government agencies and banks that cast blind eyes.
I sure would enjoy reading the stories of such rip-off artists, and their downfalls.