Adaptive to Craigslist: Take our money, please

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You’ll rarely hear us asking a company to take our money. But we’re doing it today.

As you probably know, we’ve been hit by a rash of scammers posting fake Adaptive ads, hoping to steal money from naive potential renters.

This scam works because the cost of customer acquisition is basically nil. All the crooks need to do is copy and paste my photos and ad copy, then post their own, identical ads advertising a lower price.

To counteract this criminality, we need Craigslist to start charging $10 / ad.

Yes, this will be expensive for us. I think we post something like 30 ads / month, so we’re looking at $3600 / year.

But we’re happy to pay that, because it will ruin the expected value for the scammers. Why? Well, let’s look at the scam business model.

They’re hoping to steal a deposit and first month’s rent from some unsuspecting potential tenant. Say that’s $3,000, total. With free CL ads, they might as well just keep making ads as long as they have free time… eventually, someone naively sends them the money. Even if only 1 / 1,000,000 people who sees the ads converts, they make money.

With paid ads, suddenly the numbers change. Say each ad is seen by 1,000 people. To get to that 1/1,000,000, they probably need to buy $10 x 1,000 ads = $10k worth of advertising.

Since only a buffoon would continue a business where you spend $10k to make $3k, the whole scam collapses.

So, CL, take our money, please.

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