The Craigslist Crime Report: “Cesspool of Crime,” Bold Use of Marketing [Updated]

Has popular online classifieds site Craigslist become a cesspool of crime? A destination for mayhem? A hub of murders, rapes, robberies, hit-man-for-hire, assault, and fraud? Or is that what competitors would like you to think?


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Has popular online classifieds site Craigslist become a cesspool of crime? A destination for mayhem? A hub of murders, rapes, robberies, hit-man-for-hire, assault, and fraud?

Yes, begins a hyperbolic new report commissioned by Craigslist-competitor The study, released today, attempts to paint Craigslist as the online equivalent of Mos Eisley Cantina, a place where you’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.


And like one of those guns-for-hire Oodle says are all over Craigslist, this report is nothing more than a commissioned hit-job on Oodle’s competitor. The report tirelessly lists all the crimes associated with Craigslist over the past year, dividing nefarious activity into five categories: killings, robberies, assaults, fraud, and prostitution. It’s no wonder the consultancy behind the report, the Aim Group, was able to find so much material: According to its methodology, “Google and Yahoo” were its primary research tools.

All in all, the report, which is hilariously titled “Crime and Craigslist: A Sad Tale of Murders and More,” discovered 330 crimes related to Craigslist in the past year–a figure researchers called “staggering.”

A spokesperson for Craigslist appropriately took a different perspective. “[It’s] probably worth considering we had over 573 million postings on Craigslist last year in North America,” the spokesperson said. “What are the odds?”


The odds, you ask? On average, around 0.00005% of posts are associated with crimes on Craigslist–not that you would get that impression from Oodle’s report, which is filled with innuendo and exaggerated implications. So the report acknowledges that Craigslist has no control over its users–right before launching into a 50-page listing of rapes, murders, and assaults occurring because of Craigslist. Its wink-wink research, intended to foster an atmosphere of doom and gloom around the service. “It’s important to emphasize that Craigslist has no control over the actions of its users,” the report reads. “Even so, the number, volume and scope of the incidents speak for themselves.”

The Aim Group also acknowledges that “thousands or even tens of thousands of transactions happen safely”–well, try hundreds of millions–and says that “Craigslist as an entity can’t be blamed for the things that happen among its users.”

“But that’s no longer an excuse that Craigslist can hide behind,” continues the report.


“The unfortunate fact is that Craigslist has become almost synonymous with crime.”

Dun, dun, duuuun

Update: Craigslist has taken to its blog to burn “CL wannabe Oodle” and the “false (and defamatory) paid-ford editorial” of the Aim Group.


Classified listings scraper/aggregator and CL wannabe Oodle has paid AIM
Group to falsely portray craigslist as fraught with criminal activity…

James Temple at the SF Chronicle is reporting that, in terms of crime rate, or incidence of crime, craigslist is roughly 11,000 times safer than the city of Oakland…

Since few have heard of it, its worth mentioning that Oodle is a
classified ad scraper or aggregator, meaning it acquires its listings
by  scraping them or aggregating them from other sites. In fact we had
to send them a cease-and-desist notice when they started scraping
listings from craigslist years ago…

But of course, you don’t include such findings when your “research” is
being bought and paid for by a client looking to tar an industry leader
whose position it covets and envies.


About the author

Austin Carr writes about design and technology for Fast Company magazine.