Study Shows 330 Crimes Linked to Interactions on Craigslist
12 Killed, 105 Robbed and/or Assaulted During 12 Month Period as a Result of Anonymous Interactions on the Classifieds Site Craigslist
SAN MATEO, CA – Feb. 24, 2011 A study released today showed 330 crimes, 12 murders and 105 robberies or assaults in the United States linked by law enforcement to the use of Craigslist in the last year. The analysis, which examined nationwide crime reports reported in local media coverage, concludes the anonymity on Craigslist is exploited by criminals across the country to rob, assault or even kill consumers as they try to buy or sell things like cars, apartments and furniture.
The research was undertaken by the AIM Group, consultants in online classifieds and interactive media, and commissioned by Oodle, a social marketplace for online classifieds. “Anonymous classifieds can pose a serious danger to consumers and as a result Craigslist has become a ‘one-stop shop’ for criminals,” said Peter M. Zollman, founding principal of the AIM Group. “In this era of Facebook and social networks, it’s smarter and safer to sell a car or a couch to someone you know. We’ve followed Craigslist closely for 10 years. Even so, we were shocked by the volume of crime and the number of killings linked in some way to Craigslist.”
The report calls Craigslist “a cesspool of crime,” citing murders, rapes, robberies, assault and rental rip-offs as some of the examples. The AIM Group concludes these are “everyday occurrences” on Craigslist, warning users that “the old rules of ‘meeting in public’ and ‘knowing whom you’re dealing with’ no longer apply.”
A recent rash of robberies in Oakland, California was traced to a gang of men advertising luxury cars for sale on Craigslist and then robbing and in some cases assaulting buyers who responded. Police in Chicago have labeled Craigslist crimes, “robbery by appointment” because criminals in the Windy City regularly use Craigslist to identify victims and have the luxury of scheduling their crimes. The most notorious crime last year led to an entire family being taken hostage and the father shot dead in front of his wife and children, who were also assaulted.
“Online classifieds are a very social form of commerce. While the conversation starts online, it ends in a face-to-face interaction. Anonymous online conversations can lead to poor offline behavior,” said Craig Donato, CEO of Oodle. “On Oodle’s Marketplace, people who post or respond use their real identity on Facebook, introducing appropriate social norms back into the conversation.”
In focus groups conducted by Oodle, participants who have used Craigslist reported having negative experiences with anonymous contacts made on the site – from ‘flaky’ behavior (e.g., missed meetings), to scams, to outright violence.
Oodle’s Marketplace – available at Oodle.com and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/marketplace) provides a safer and more social alternative. Because people who post or respond to listings identify themselves on Facebook, users can see who is on the other side of the conversation – as well as how they may be connected (e.g., share a common friend). Additionally, Oodle analyzes the profile of users who post and monitors communication between buyers and sellers, scanning for any suspicious activity. For tips on how to buy and sell safely online check out the newly-revamped Oodle Safety Center.
Oodle is reinventing online classifieds through its social Marketplace on Oodle (www.oodle.com) and Facebook (apps.facebook.com/marketplace). On Marketplace, consumers can easily buy, sell, and trade with friends, friends-of-friends, and other people in their local community. And because listings and email conversations are tied to a person’s Facebook profile, they always see who is on the other side of the conversation. Marketplace has approximately 14M monthly unique users and is available on iPhone & Android phones (www.oodle.com/mobile).
Local businesses also participate in Marketplace through Oodle’s Pro product. By connecting to a business’ Facebook page and linking with its community of fans, Pro both promotes listings and fuels word-of-mouth referrals.
About the AIM Group
The AIM Group, formally known as the Advanced Interactive Media Group LLC, is the world’s leading consultancy in interactive media and classified advertising. It publishes Classified Intelligence Report, a continuous advisory service often called “the bible of the classified advertising industry.” The AIM Group works with leading media companies, broadcasters, dot-coms, yellow-page publishers and technology companies. It provides strategic and tactical consulting; sales training; proprietary and published research about interactive media, and other services. Founded in 1998 by internationally known speaker and consultant Peter M. Zollman, it is based in Altamonte Springs, Fla. For more information call (407) 788-2780 or see http://AIMGroup.com.