Sharon Osgood, a hardcore 49ers fan who desperately wanted to follow her team to New Orleans.  She and her boyfriend had pooled their money to get the tickets and travel to New Orleans to root on her beloved team.

She found an offer on Craiglist from someone named R. Thomas Pham Quan, who was selling four tickets for $5,900. He told her that he was a tax attorney in Boca Raton, Fla., and a Baltimore Ravens season ticket holder.  Osgood texted and spoke on the phone with this person for four days she then wired the money to the man’s credit union account.

The “seller” turned out to be a scammer. When the highly-anticipated FedEx package arrived at Osgood’s home, there were no tickets inside, just the message


Her story caught the attention of Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard, who offered Osgood four free tickets and set her up with breakfast with NFL legend Troy Aikman.  A 49ers representative is giving her a pair of tickets, too, because Osgood wanted to bring her nephew’s girlfriend. Her boyfriend’s daughter and her nephew are also going. She has one left over for another relative.

The story here turned out to be a happy ending but not all end this way.  Here are 5 tips to avoid getting scammed on Craigslist.

1. Search and browse within your own city or state limits

This will give you and the seller the opportunity to meet in person.

2. Always exchange in person instead of mailing money

Unlike E-Bay, Craigslist is not responsible of transaction mishaps. This means, if you send money to someone, you can’t report it to Craigslist if you don’t receive the item that you were paying for. Any reference to Craigslist that says “buyer protection” or “certified seller” is bogus.  Remember Craigslist is basically just an internet classified ad.  Just like the newspaper.

3. If you are selling insist on cash

Fake checks and money orders are common, and banks will hold you – not the seller – responsible. Never wire money to anyone under any circumstances. Most payments made by wire transfer are fraudulent.

4. Prioritize posts with pictures over text-only posts

If you are interested in a non-image post or would like more details, contact the poster but do not make any offers until you are fully satisfied.

5. Always get the sellers phone number and call them to do business.

People can still scam over the phone but you always get a better feel for someone over the phone rather than by email or text.  Plus this will also give you a chance to haggle the price a bit.