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Online classified ads for loan cosigners pose risks

Many in Houston rely on online classified ads to buy and sell basic things like furniture or to advertise for a garage sale. Sites like Craigslist have become popular for their ease of use and because they are free, allowing millions of users to connect with someone locally. However, some activities are riskier than others online, and users could be careful not to engage in any online conduct that could be considered a crime.

One recent trend illustrates how a seemingly harmless online ad could lead to some serious criminal implications. A Texas man spoke with reporters at CNN this week about his quest to find a co-signer for a loan so that he could stay in school. Pretty harmless, right? The man doesn’t qualify for a loan on his own and needs to enroll in school to complete a nursing program. In addition to offers from people that may have been fraudulent, this type of activity holds some risks for the person seeking the loan cosigner as well.

The situation is ripe for an unintentional legal violation or for someone seeking a loan or seeking to cosign for a loan to become victims of fraud themselves. Any time Houston residents engage in online commerce they should use caution and make sure they are dealing with a legitimate other party.

It can be easy to accidentally get involved with a fraudster and end up facing criminal charges for a white collar crime that you didn’t intentionally commit, but that doesn’t make the charges as less real and the government investigation could still uncover wrongdoing.

The popular online classifieds site hasn’t issued a comment as to whether this conduct is permitted within their terms of use.

Source: CNN, “Desperately seeking co-signers – on Craigslist,” Blake Ellis, Nov. 8, 2012.