Conmen Seeking Suckers: Beware of Stolen Merchandise on Craigslist

How to Avoid the Hot Items Scam
How to Avoid the Hot Items Scam

Whether you're buying a TV, a car or just an old piece of furniture, remember the golden rule of buying stuff on Craigslist: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

A selling price way below what you'd be willing to pay should automatically raise some red flags, and could indicate a lot of things. Perhaps the item is actually broken or defective, and you won't discover you've been scammed until you get home. Perhaps it's just a bait-and-switch, and the seller will either jack up the price or swap in an inferior product once you get in touch. And it could even be an attempt to lure an unsuspecting buyer into an armed robbery.

But there's another possibility if a posting seems to good to be true: You could be buying stolen goods.

Yes, Craigslist can serve the same function as a pawn shop when it comes to unloading merchandise that fell off the back of a truck. And the last thing you want to do is unwittingly something "hot": If the stolen item is traced to you, at best you're losing your new TV and at worst you're facing legal consequences.

The Council of Better Business Bureaus has some basic guidelines for making sure you don't buy stolen items from the site, including checking the serial number with the manufacturer and asking the seller why the item is so inexpensive. For more helpful tips, check out the video above.