AIM Group tries to claim Craigslist is full of crime, trumps up statistics

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IB Times reports on study about Craigslist and crime. Study was conducted by AIM Group which specializes in placement of paid classifieds, and, unsurprisingly, disses free online classifieds as “a cesspool of crime”.

According to their study last year Craigslist was linked to 447 crimes (12 murders, 105 robberies/assaults and 330 abstract crimes), which supposed to shock an average reader into really thinking that this whole “anonymous ads” site is a horrible-horrible crime-ridden place. Except the actual odds are not listed. According to this article, Craigslist has about 80 million new ads posted monthly. That’s 960 million ads a year. Odds of becoming a victim of Craigslist-based crime then comes out to 1 in 2,147,651. That’s one in over two million. To compare — in Austin there were 1,415 violent robberies and 37,000 thefts in 2009 with population under a million. Either study math is horribly wrong, or Austin is orders of magnitude worse in terms of being a cesspool of crime. Run!

Also statistics of number of crimes linked to newspaper ads (estate sales/ fake items etc) suspiciously absent. Did they try to count those at all? I guess not. And levels of auction fraud are just horrifying.

Now, of course there are criminals using Craigslist. People will try to rob, cheat, steal no matter what. And claiming that anonymous (or nearly anonymous) online ads are the source of all evil is simply silly, unless you make most of your money by providing an alternative, and then it makes “business” sense — scare people into dealing with you, rather than cheaper alternative. Per AIM Groups’ logic all population centers automatically need to be classified as centers of criminal activity. And everyone should have a shiny name-tag worn while walking down the street, so that robbery and theft could be prevented via identifying suspect’s name. Sounds ridiculous, right? I thought so.

So, be cautious. Follow simple rules to avoid scams, but don’t be scared of using Craigslist.

p.s. Official Craigslist blog re-iterates pretty much all of my points

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