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Study Calls Craigslist 'a Cesspool of Crime' 316

Bala4361 writes "Classifieds site Craigslist has been linked with 330 crimes, 12 murders and 105 robberies or assaults in the United States last year due to anonymous interactions on the site, says a new study. The report calls Craigslist 'a cesspool of crime,' citing murders, rapes, robberies, assault and rental rip-offs as some of the examples." Among the many Reefer Madness-style quotable stretchers from the originating consultancy: "The unfortunate fact is that Craigslist has become almost synonymous with crime." Update: 02/25 17:05 GMT by S : Craigslist has posted a response.
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Study Calls Craigslist 'a Cesspool of Crime'

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  • misunderstandings (Score:4, Insightful)

    by poetmatt ( 793785 ) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @05:43PM (#35305806) Journal

    Is this another idiotic moment where people don't realize that it's easier for police to find crime when you know it's on craigslist? Or is this another AG grandstanding moment?

    • by bunratty ( 545641 ) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @05:47PM (#35305876)
      What they're missing is that all of these criminals ingested significant quantities dihydrogen monoxide in the 48 hours before each of these crimes was committed. When will people learn?
    • Totally true. Look, the crime was going to happen anyway. The only question is, will the police ignore the crime, or will they investigate. It's like objecting to the highway because then people speed. No, the highway is the perfect place to put up a speed trap. If you have craigslist, the the AG knows where to look and it is a GREAT tool to find and arrest criminals before they commit the crime. Any Prosecutor that dislikes craigslist is actually saying that he is too lazy to do his job and wishes pe
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

        If you have craigslist, the the AG knows where to look and it is a GREAT tool to find and arrest criminals before they commit the crime.

        If they have not committed a crime yet, they are not criminals.

        • Conspiring to commit a crime can make you a criminal, whether or not you are caught online. You can't really get caught hiring a hitman or soliciting a prostitute, for instance, and say that they can't arrest you because the crime itself has not yet been committed. I assume this was GP's point.
          • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

            Conspiring to commit a crime is a crime. Hiring a hooker or hitman is a crime. So then you have now committed a crime. GP said before they commit a crime. All of your examples are after a crime was committed.

        • I know this might come as a shocker, but planning to commit a crime is a crime.

      • The point is that the internet is crime and must be controlled. It's not just communication, freedom of expression. It's mostly crime. Copyright abuse, financial fraud, child porn, pedophilia, terrorism, prostitution, drugs, that's what the internet is about. The solution is to identify everyone that connects each time with an ID, and log all activity all the time. Then we'll have no crime. If you argue about freedom, you are told to not confuse your freedom with taking liberty with other people's safety
        • Nah. Connectivity allows us to test the limits. The bad guys were always there. It's like blaming crime on handguns. Handguns are VERY convenient. So is the Internet.

          An incredible amount of uncontestably/unquestionably legitimate commerce and communications goes on every millisecond on the net. Singling out Craigslist-- which is a fantastic site, is like singling out AT&T because you can call people and get drugs, prostitutes, and so on out of the Yellow Pages. Oops, I'm sorry-- they're called escorts a

      • It's like objecting to the highway because then people speed. No, the highway is the perfect place to put up a speed trap.

        Nevermind that many highways are built like drag strips, it's for your safety!

        Besides, the summary mentions about 330 crimes associated with the site. How many millions of users does it have? I wish major metropolitan areas had crime rates like that.

        I think this is another one of those "... but with a computer!" type of stories.

      • by nschubach ( 922175 ) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @06:22PM (#35306424) Journal

        The difference is:

        Speed traps make you money.
        Criminal traps usually cost you money.

    • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionar ... m ['oo.' in gap]> on Thursday February 24, 2011 @05:58PM (#35306052) Journal

      The study was published by "The AIM Group," of which there are two. One is a placement agency for the petro industry, the other is (can you guess yet?) "Consulting Services for Interactive Media and Classified Advertising"

      Shorter version of TFA "Don't use the crime infested, but generally free Craigslist, pay our customers to place your classifieds safely, without the fear of VIOLENT RAPE!"

      I just love screwing with marketing numbskulls who try to manipulate people into giving them free publicity. Where's your free publicity now, AIM Group?

      • The AIM Group has just completed a research project for Oodle, a Craigslist competitor, cataloging crimes that have been linked to Craigslist. And the results surprised even us.

        Yeah. Screw you assholes and your manufactured FUD.

        • "Yeah. Screw you assholes and your manufactured FUD."

          You missed this little nugget...

          "On Oodle's Marketplace, people who post or respond use their real identity on Facebook, introducing appropriate social norms back into the conversation.""

          It is quite easy to make a Facebook account with a false identity--in short, there is NO real difference between the two, except you are required to be a Facebook user to participate Oodle's Marketplace. That rules me out.

          This is nothing more then a move to get even more

      • by PatHMV ( 701344 )

        Amen. First thing I thought of was, did anybody do a similar study of crime rates with anonymous classified ads posted in the newspapers and the PennySavers? People were inviting strangers into their homes to look at crappy old pieces of furniture to sell for $10 long before there was a Craigslist.

  • Streets (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ivucica ( 1001089 ) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @05:44PM (#35305826) Homepage
    A lot of crime happens on the streets. What conclusion does that draw?
    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      A lot of crime happens on the streets. What conclusion does that draw?

      If everyone wears giant neon signs with their names written on it while in the street, there will be no more crime, because there'd be no more anonymity!

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by roc97007 ( 608802 )

        Yes, I wouldn't wear a giant neon sign with someone else's name, because that would be illegal...

        • I got an idea to prevent crime. Let's make it illegal to do something illegal. That would prevent most if not all types of crime!
          • Yeah, I can't count the times I've seen someone breaking into a car or mugging a woman on the street, and I've yelled at him "Hey! What you're doing is illegal!"

            Then he'd beat the tar outta me and take my wallet. I'm pretty sure that's illegal too. I'll have to check.

    • That this "AIM Group" is incapable of basic math and statistical analysis.
      • by dougmc ( 70836 )

        That's probably not true -- they probably are capable of them.

        However, they're obviously also capable of ignoring these and similar things when ignoring these things helps push the agenda they're trying to push.

    • Re:Streets (Score:5, Funny)

      by Nethemas the Great ( 909900 ) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @05:52PM (#35305950)
      We must rid ourselves of streets or at least require license to use them.
    • Well duh. We should put an end to socialist institutions like paved streets and let them return to their natural state to put a stop to street crime.

    • Who pays people to write this stuff? Oh ya, people that want to sell you new stuff.
  • by Antisyzygy ( 1495469 ) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @05:45PM (#35305832)
    The same thing could be said about public places. "Since we have built this new park three years ago, there have been 83 people mugged, 8 murders, 125 cases of lewd conduct, 20 cases of prostitution.... etc. etc.". Really, craigslist is just a public forum for commerce and other needs, although it exists on the web.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by e9th ( 652576 )
      Forget public places. Before the web, we had newspapers. Thieves would scan the classifieds looking for things to steal and the obituaries for the best time to burgle the homes of mourners Con men read the personals looking for the gullible and the lonely. And the ads in the sports section of most big city papers included some really dubious looking massage parlors and escort services. If it weren't for that pesky 1st Amendment, you can bet that every charge that's been laid against Craigslist would have
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by bunratty ( 545641 )
        The amount of crime in a city has always been highly correlated with the size of the classified section of the local newspaper. Coincidence? I think not!
        • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

          The amount of gang violence has gone up as spirograph sales have gone down. Coincidence? I think not!

          • The point I was making (it looks like you missed it) is that the size of the classified section of the local paper and the amount of crime in an area is roughly proportional to the population of the area. It's the size of the population that causes both effects. In your example, you're stating a correlation that has nothing to do with causation at all.
            • by jc42 ( 318812 )

              ... the size of the classified section of the local paper and the amount of crime in an area is roughly proportional to the population of the area.

              Sounds like they learned something from the recent story about the connection between cell-phone towers and the local birth rate []. That one was actually a spoof of such "studies", and some of the media reported it as a real cause-and-effect story, too.

              It's an old propaganda technique. As long as the general public and the media are abysmally ignorant of basic statistics, it'll continue to work.

    • Our parents taught us to be wary of bad neighborhoods, parks at night, strangers with candy, men in vans offering rides, to look both ways before crossing the street, to use a condom (well, we learned that somewhere anyhow), to wear our seatbelts, etc, etc...

      They didn't teach us to be afraid of classifieds. Well some people seem to indicate that, but honestly that sounds like a bad movie to me. I may be naive and everyone who grew up around me may also be naive, but that's not really a sin or a personal

  • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @05:45PM (#35305852)

    Out of how many millions of ads?

    This is why many of us lament the death of math and science in this country. No sense of proportions or priorities.

    • by gknoy ( 899301 )

      Exactly. How many users use Craigslist in that time? How does that compare to a regular city? Craigslist could be compared to a community of similar size.

    • by dazedNconfuzed ( 154242 ) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @06:13PM (#35306320)

      The Total Perspective Votex derives its picture of the whole Universe on the principle of extrapolated matter analyses.
      To explain--since every piece of matter in the Universe is in some way affected by every other piece of matter in the Universe, it is in theory possible to extrapolate the whole of creation--every sun, every planet, their orbits, their composition, and their economic and social history from, say, one small piece of fairy cake.

      The man who invented the Total Perspective Vortex did so basically in order to annoy his wife.

      Trin Tragula--for that was his name--was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher or, as his wife would have it, an idiot.

      And she would nag him incessantly about the utterly inordinate amount of time he spent staring out into space, or mulling over the mechanics of safety pins, or doing spectrographic analyses of pieces of fairy cake.

      "Have some sense of proportion!" she would say, sometimes as often as thirty-eight times in a single day.

      And so he built the Total Perspective Vortex--just to show her.

      And into one end, he plugged the whole of reality as extrapolated from a piece of fairy cake, and into the other, he plugged his wife: so that when he turned it on she saw in one instant the whole infinity of creation and herself in relation to it.

      To Trin Tragula's horror, the shock completely annihilated her brain, but to his satisfaction he realized that he had proved conclusively that if life is going to exist in a Universe of this size, then one thing it cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion.

      -- The HitchHiker's Guide

    • Well, it is probably the case that these numbers vastly under-represent the number of attempted crimes, and unreported crimes. There definitely is a lot of attempted fraud on Craigslist.

      There are certain categories, like vacation rentals, where in some areas there are almost as many fraudulent postings as there are real postings. There was an article about this in the New York Times a few weeks ago and how the author was defrauded of several thousand dollars for a fake vacation rental that seemed "too goo

      • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

        There was an article about this in the New York Times a few weeks ago and how the author was defrauded of several thousand dollars for a fake vacation rental that seemed "too good a price to be true" and involved wiring money to the UK.

        The author was an idiot. These same scams occur in classifieds in newspapers, via old fashioned mail, over the phone and every other method of communication we humans have cooked up. I bet the author avoided mentioning those other common sources of this old scam. Here is a n

    • Also, 330 crimes - 12 murders and 105 robberies, out of how many nation-wide crimes, murders and robberies is that exactly..?

      (Rhetorical question, not sure what the answer is, but i'll bet that's not even 0.1% of all crimes)
    • Actually, I'm impressed by how LOW the crime numbers are... To me Craigslist seems safer after reading the article.
    • In 2009 the US homicide rate was 5 per 100000 people. []

      Twelve murders would be the average amount for a city of 240,000. St. Petersburg Fl, Jersey Ciy NJ and Chandler AZ are all around that size. []. I haven't found the actual crime figures for these places, but I think that the residents would only be upset if the number was far above twelve per year.

      There are a lot more Craigslist users t

  • by Lord Dreamshaper ( 696630 ) <lord_dreamshaper AT yahoo DOT ca> on Thursday February 24, 2011 @05:46PM (#35305868)
    500 postings linked to crime out of how many? This just in: paper is also used to write ransom notes, stationery stores to be outlawed
    • by Yvan256 ( 722131 )

      - It can also be used as a weapon to give nasty paper cuts to someone!
      - Most crimes are about money and money is printed on paper.

      Outlaw paper!

      What's next, outlaw writing and reading?

  • Looking for someone that can:

    1. Hold their hand like they're pulling a carrot from the ground.
    2. Not ask questions.

  • by smellsofbikes ( 890263 ) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @05:50PM (#35305908) Journal

    "The unfortunate fact is that Craigslist has become almost synonymous with really great deals."
    "The unfortunate fact is that Craigslist has become almost synonymous with bargains that don't get taxed."
    "The unfortunate fact is that Craigslist has become almost synonymous with purchases that don't get tracked by advertisers."
    Those are the first things that leap to MY mind.

    • by Nadaka ( 224565 )

      The unfortunate fact is that Craigslist has become almost synonymous with people pretending to be interested attractive young women, but they really just want your credit card number.

  • Ratio (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @05:50PM (#35305910)

    So, what's the ratio of criminals to honest ads? Craigslist claims 80 million classifieds are placed each month, that means that the odds of any one ad being linked to a crime is an amazing 1:2900000. Won't someone close down this cesspool of crime!? Granted, there's plenty of illegal stuff going on in craigslist ads; prostitution, drug selling, etc. I would imagine that is the odds of accidentally becoming the victim crime rather than participating in it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If craigslist really was synonymous for crime, this statement would make me not want to move somewhere: The area has a high rate of craigslist.

  • by travdaddy ( 527149 ) <> on Thursday February 24, 2011 @05:51PM (#35305934)
    Yes, but how many "Missed Connections" has it resolved?
  • So let see (Score:4, Funny)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Thursday February 24, 2011 @05:51PM (#35305942) Homepage Journal

    100's of million can access it, and there has been less then 400 crimes.

    Yeah, thats a regular hive of scum and villainy ~

  • by tickticker ( 549972 ) <> on Thursday February 24, 2011 @05:52PM (#35305954) Journal

    We are the world’s premiere research and consulting firm for the classifieds industry. We’re widely quoted in the press, including Forbes, Fortune, Financial Times, Bloomberg, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere.

    We are experts in developing successful revenue strategies around automotive, real estate, recruitment and merchandise advertising, encompassing print, online, mobile, video and social media.

    Which I'll bet includes all types of classifieds and advertising EXCEPT Craigslist.

  • A "cesspool of crime"? Seriously? How many thousands or tens-of-thousands of successful interactions have their been? TFA doesn't say. Are the crimes linked to Craigslist unusual in that they are committed more frequently per capita (or however they measure crime statistics) than they would be without?

    Anecdotal, yes, but I have used Craigslist easily in excess of twenty times over the past few years to sell and buy various items. Of course, you have to be smart about it and use common sense. Even t
  • Someone at this publication needs to have someone review what the word synonomous means. Out of all the crimes committed in the U.S. last year only 330 are linked to Craigslist. 330 crimes out of over 10 million are linked to Craigslist and somehow Criagslist is this "cesspool of crime"? Get real.
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @05:55PM (#35306006) Homepage Journal

    AIM Group doesn't do reports for free, for the public benefit, or for nobody. Some corporation or organization is either paying for this report, or targeted by AIM marketing to buy such research (or just the hypercritical reports). Yet they are as anonymous as the buyers and sellers AIM's report finds to be the root of all Craigslist evil.

    I suppose since such anonymous attack marketing is old-fashioned that it's "OK" in some way that Craigslist is not.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's not anonymous. It's Oodle, a Craigslist competitor.

  • "The unfortunate fact is that Craigslist has become almost synonymous with crime."

    So in the eventual remake of Repo Man, Debbi will say, "Duke, let's go do some craigslists."
  • by ChangeOnInstall ( 589099 ) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @06:02PM (#35306126)

    ...since they removed the jobs/hired goons section. It's a shame too, as the local one had excellent goons.

  • ...if there's any justice in the world.
  • by GPLDAN ( 732269 ) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @06:03PM (#35306156)
    Luke: You know, I think that R2 unit we bought may have been stolen.
    Uncle Owen: What makes you think that?
    Luke: Well, I stumbled across a recording while I was cleaning him. He says that he belongs to someone named Obi-Wan Kenobi. I thought he might have meant old Ben. Do you know what he's talking about?
    Uncle Owen: Just a fucking Craigslist thing, you know how it is.
    Luke: I wonder if he's related to Ben.
    Uncle Owen: That wizard is just a crazy old internet pervert. Now, tomorrow I want you to take that R2 unit to Anchorhead and have it's memory erased. That'll be the end of it. It belongs to us now.
  • This study has been proudly presented to you by eBay.
    • Not to nitpick on your joke, but eBay actually owns 25% of craigslist - maybe you meant proudly presented to you by Amazon :)
  • behind your keyboard? It is only your stupidity that placed you in the hands of criminals.

    A friend of mine was wanting to get rid of something today and knows very little about the internet... I asked for the details and he had wayyyy too many people calling him in under an hour. He called me back and said "MAN!! TAKE THAT AD DOWN!!! I'M TIRED OF THE REDNECKS CALLING ME!!!"
  • that is out of how many millions of interactions?
    Don't bars have far worse statistics?

  • by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) <> on Thursday February 24, 2011 @06:18PM (#35306370) Homepage Journal

    Report was done by a company called "AIM Group" []. Go ahead and click through to the site. Check the sponsors box on the right. Notice anything? (In case you didn't click through or have ad-blocking software, I'm referring to the eBay and Kijiji ads.)

    Not to mention that they say right in the study that it was commissioned by a Craigslist competitor, Oodle. So they're being paid both directly and indirectly by competitors to Craigslist. Is any of this mentioned in the coverage of the study? Not a chance.

    It's a smear paper in its finest and nothing else, especially not a "study".

  • And I don't see anyone rushing to close down *that* cesspool of crime...

    I'm really getting tired of that when something happens "on the internet" it's somehow 1000 times worse than real-life.

  • wait till they find out public roads are a Cesspool of Crime! I bet you cannot even commit a crime without having to use a public road. Think of the children!
  • The amazing thing is most will just read the headline and write Craigslist off as crap. Its the best damn thing since slices bread, and utilitarian as well as equalizing for those without massive advertising budgets. Is it full of crap, yes of course. However that would then require someone to actually think and have a clue about life and scams. If you want to filter that out, and be sold a load of BS from marketing hype and droids go and spend money on the machine that AIM offers (surely they don't gua
  • I notice there is no equivalent news story for the millions and millions of transactions that didn't end in a crime being committed. Without telling how many transactions they looked at in total, telling us how many crimes happened is a pretty worthless statistic.
  • A cesspool of spammers looking to harvest email addresses? Sure.

    A cesspool of the flakiest people from your community, who will seemingly fall off the face of the earth entirely when they are supposed to be coming to look at your trinket? Absolutely.

    A cesspool of marginally literate people who will email you to ask you questions that you plainly addressed in your ad? You bet.

    A cesspool of people who feel that SMS speak is a valid way to drive all communications throughout the known world, who will
  • Streets named after Martin Luther King are a cesspool of crime, too! We should rename them to Infinite Loop because this is where the least amount of violent crime happens!

You are in a maze of little twisting passages, all different.