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.