Wednesday, February 24, 2016

New Empirical Study By Academia On Craigslist Housing Rental Scams Says Online Service Fails To Delete Most Suspicious Listings

IT World, a provider of technology news, reports:
  • Craigslist, the popular online listings service, has waged a long fight against scammers, but a new academic study suggests it's been losing the battle.

    The study focused on listings for housing rentals, and found that Craigslist failed to remove a majority of those that were fraudulent.

    The researchers analyzed two million ads over a five-month period in 2014 and determined that Craigslist had flagged and removed fewer than half the listings that likely weren't genuine.

    Victims sometimes proceed even if a deal looks too good to be true, convinced by confident reassurances from the scammers, said Damon McCoy, an assistant professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department at New York University and one of the study's authors.

    "By the tens of thousands of ads that we found, [the scammers] are clearly successful at making money," he said in an interview ... .
For more, see More than half of suspicious real estate ads are never flagged for removal by Craigslist.

For the study, see Understanding Craigslist Rental Scams:
  • From the abstract:

    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.

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