Someone posted an ad saying all his possessions were free for the taking

What started as a Craigslist hoax ended with a Jacksonville, Oregon man losing almost all of his worldly possessions.

The ad appeared Saturday afternoon, stating that Robert Salisbury found himself suddenly forced to leave the area due to undisclosed circumstances, and that all his belongings were free for the taking.

Salisbury, an independent contractor, was unaware of the ad until he received the call from a concerned citizen. While driving home, Salisbury says he noticed several cars filled with his belongings, including a truck filled with his contracting equipment, which included work ladders, a lawn mower, and a weed eater. “I informed them I was the owner, but they refused to give the stuff back,” said Salisbury. “They showed me the Craigslist printout and told me they had the right to do what they did.”

After arriving at home, Salisbury found approximately 30 people rummaging through his home, including his front porch and his barn.

Salisbury says the trespassers, who showed him a copy of the ad and ignored his requests to stop, brushed him off. “They honestly thought that because it appeared on the Internet it was true," he said. “It boggles the mind.”

Michelle Easley, the woman that originally warned Salisbury of the ad, says she came to his house to claim his horse, which the ad described as abandoned by the sheriff’s department and free for the taking. “I can't stand to see a horse suffer so I drove out there and got her,” said Easley, “[but] the horse didn't look abandoned. She is in good shape for being 32 years old.”

Easley said the situation seemed odd, so she left a note on Salisbury’s door. However, after noticing a second ad appear on Craigslist, she said she decided to call him to confirm the ad’s legitimacy – and that’s when she learned it was a hoax.

“I feel bad because I was a part of it,” said Easley. “It felt right to call the police.”

The hoax has once again called into question Craigslist’s policy of anonymity towards its posters, which many feel is overly permissive. Craigscrimelist, which monitors the classified service for crime and fraud, said that hoaxes such as the one Salisbury fell victim to are likely to continue “as long as craigslist keeps their (sic) anonymity policy the way it is.”

Salisbury says he’s given a handful of license plate numbers to the police, and that he will accept items returned to him without any questions. Meanwhile, detectives are working with Craigslist’s legal team to determine who exactly was behind the prank.

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