Arrests in fake Craigslist "everything must go" ad rip-off

Oregon cops caught the alleged crooks who posted a fake "moving, everything must go, just come and take it" ad on Craigslist, which ended up costing their victim almost everything he owned. The pair had allegedly stolen a saddle from the man and wanted to cover up the crime, but they used a traceable IP address to commit the fraud.

Brandon and Amber Herbert were nabbed last night for allegedly posting the March 22 Craigslist ad, which claimed that the Jacksonville ranch's owner had to leave town so suddenly that his belongings--which included a horse--were available for the taking. The Herberts, investigators charge, did this to cover up their prior theft of several saddles and other items from the garage of the rural southern Oregon house, which is owned by contractor Robert Salisbury. After learning of the Craigslist ad, Salisbury returned to his property to find about 30 people rummaging through his home and remaining belongings. After subpoenaing Craigslist records, Jackson County Sheriff's Office investigators traced the online posting to the Herberts, according to the below probable cause affidavit. As a result, Brandon, 29, and Amber, 28, were both hit with burglary and computer crime charges. They are pictured in the above mug shots.

See also: Fake Craigslist "everything must go" ad costs man pretty much everything


  1. If they’re in their twenties and they look that bad, I’m not sure that further punishment is warranted. They seem to be destroying themselves quite effectively without state intervention.

  2. Hey they look like almost ALL the tweaker neighbor I used* to have

    *thank god

    Also, one of the amazing things is the price of a saddle. They seem so mundane yet are actually hard to make.

  3. You gotta admit, that’s a pretty creative and original idea they had. Next time, find an open hotspot, or go to an internet cafe…

  4. I’m curious…

    Boing Boing folks are usually emphatically against surveillance, civil liberty/privacy violations of any kind.

    And yet when idiots like this get caught thanks to a traceable IP address, does this bother you? Or is it okay because they’re idiots?

    I’m just curious about where people draw the line ethically. Is surveillance/privacy invasion empirically bad, or does it depend on the circumstances?

  5. @#5: In this case, it’s neither surveillance nor privacy invasion.

    And I’m not sure what you’re asking, because something being empirically bad would imply it would depend on the circumstances. (Because the consequences – what you’d be studying empirically – certainly do depend on the circumstances.) So, your question doesn’t pose a dilemma.

    I suspect you meant to ask if we think they’re intrinsically bad.

    Personally, I don’t think they are. I think that, provided checks and balances are met, warrants are requested, granted on the basis of evidence, etc. etc., then surveillance can often be a force for good. There are plenty of organised crime trials that show exactly that.

    And the very fact that surveillance _can_ be good automatically means it’s not intrinsically bad.

  6. Forensic investigation is not surveillance, and presumably the cops had a legitimate warrant before the ISP gave up their identities. Anonymity is not privacy, and anonymity is a civil liberty only in specific contexts (eg. protecting whistleblowers and critics).

    What am I saying? My IP address is recorded in teh server logs! I have to create an account to post to BoingBoing! Oh noes! Teh internets are run by teh Man!

    I’m curious about where people play dumb, I mean, curious in the attempt to frame some stupid right-wing talking point. Is intelligence and nuance only reserved for your enemies, or does it depend on the circumstances?

  7. @8: No they should not. Are they dumb for just showing up without the home-owner being present and taking things at that point? Yes. But I’m sure greed took over when one person was waiting and 5 cars pulled up *enter the greed zone*. It would have been more intelligent if someone called the local Sheriff to make sure it was legit, but they did not. And hindsight is always 20/20 so do not assume that you would have acted differently in the same situation (remember you are a comp savvy type who have read stories resembling this, you are not a rural Oregonian)

    Either way, this is not surveillance, it’s “you robbed a house and left foot-prints all the way back to your place”. I posted in the previous thread that I hoped the people responsible did it from their home comp, and wahoo! I was correct in my assumption of human stupidity.

  8. @12: Bah, ignorance and greed are no excuse. And in this case, the “something doesn’t add up here” alarm should have been going off.

    If they are given the chance to make things right and do so, then I think it can be considered a (marginally) honest mistake. But, seeing as how the original story said that when some of the opportunists were told the truth they refused to return the goods, at that point they become thieves or at the very least recipients of stolen property and should be charged.

  9. @ #5:

    I don’t think that tracing an IP address is an invasion of privacy or an encroachment on a civil liberty. The same could be said of police searches of garbage cans on the curb. They’re put out in a public space, they’re publicly searchable. These people did a crime and they left forensic evidence on the internet.

    They were not being placed under surveillance to wait for them to maybe commit a crime, the crime was already committed. The police were looking for the people who did it, regardless of their identities.

  10. Antinous said: If they’re in their twenties and they look that bad, I’m not sure that further punishment is warranted.

    I suspect you’re correct in your evaluation of them, but I must interject that if you’ve ever had the unfortunate experience of being thrown in jail, you understand that they can pretty much make anyone look like a hardened criminal and/or bad specimen of humanity by the time they get around to taking your mugshot.

  11. @13: You are correct for the sub-set regarding their refusal to return something they know is stolen. However your broad comment of “People that took stuff from his house should be arrested also” does not stipulate that.

    And again, do not assume you would not have acted in a similar manner if you were in the same situation. You may have a different perspective from where you sit, and being able to look at this in hindsight.

    It’s a sad situation in any regard. I hope the guy gets his stuff back and I hope the two people arrested are the ones charged with the theft of everything that was taken since their actions caused the greed-storm.

  12. I went out walking one day, and there was a brand new pedestal sink in its box, sitting on the sidewalk, marked “Free – please take”. I took, and I’m glad, because it’s a lovely sink.

    If I had gone out walking and seen a sign plunked in somebody’s yard saying “Free – everything must go!” I would not take a thing unless I could verify that the offer was valid.

    It doesn’t take computer savvy to determine when something is too good to be true. Frankly, this kind of greed informed by willing blindness is what also gave us the mortgage crisis.

    On another note – “Mr. Herbert was lodged in lieu of $30,000 bail”! How kind of the cops to provide “lodging”! Love it.

  13. Just heard on Oregon Public Broadcasting – the victim is still missing approximately $1,000 worth of belongings. While that still sucks, fortunately it sounds like far less than was earlier reported.

  14. How can this be prevented? Should these types of postings be flagged on Craigslist, just as a preventative measure?

    Is there even a name for a crime of this type?

  15. I don’t think so but it seems like the right time to name it and spread it around so it becomes common knowledge.

    Getting “List Rolled?”

  16. these people are morons. anyone who knows even a little bit about computers should have known their craigslist ad could be traced.

  17. Oxdeadbeef, I am firmly left wing. I don’t know how I can prove this to you… does it help that I am an active, meeting-attending, money donating, pamphlet-distibuting member of a left wing party?

    I suspect nothing I say will convince you now that I have broken the cardinal rule of actually questioning an idealogical party line. Oh no, we lefties are not allowed to debate, look at both sides of an issue or think for ourselves. Everything was written in stone by Marx years ago and all we have to do is turn up at civil disobedience events and follow the leader.

    It’s pretty disturbing that such a simple question of where do you draw the line gets me accused of being a right-winger playing dumb to start an argument. Even if someone did that, I would say fine, bring it, I’m up for a debate and can defend my position. If you feel strongly enough about your views then no right-wing baiter is going to bother you.

    Domster made a good point, that it comes down to the checks and balances and it can be a force for good. But this leads to the question of what is good. We all have our own ideas about that. When people like the above idiots and pedophiles get caught through their IPs we are cool with that, but in other cases e.g. if someone got caught arranging a drug deal, say selling weed, over the net, and they were caught by tracing their IP address, I think I and a lot of others who think weed should be legal, would not feel so easy about it. We would probably be up in arms saying tracing IP addresses is a breach of civil liberties. Wouldn’t we? Or not?

    What if the net was around in the time of McCarthy and he was using IPs to trace communist activity?

  18. …Amazing that such products of selective inbreeding could have come up with such a scam. Wonder if the bad guys had a black horse to put that stolen saddle on?

  19. Sorry, Leafo, but you made a trollish post, even if you didn’t intend to, so I responded in kind. Let me make the pattern obvious:

    Your Group categorically holds beliefs X, Y, Z to be true.

    Yet Bad Person was thwarted in contradiction to X, Y, and Z. Does X, Y, and Z apply to you but not Bad Person?

    Do you support X, Y and Z for Bad Person, or are you hypocrites?

    The polite response is that you are constructing a false dichotomy, and to answer it on those terms would only serve to undermine people’s respect for civil liberties. There is no conflict between the law and your rights because “due process” is supposed to ensure they are respected. (Yeah, only in an ideal world, but it was a philosophical question.) We should not need to gut our civil liberties to catch the “bad guys”.

    In the drug example, it is the law that is unjust, not the technique used to find and punish those who break it. How would it be any different than if they used a credit card, and so the police get the name of the account holder?

    The problem with blanket surveillance is that it is a violation of privacy (the innocent are subjected to the same scrutiny as the criminal) and that it lends itself to the abuse of the law as a form of political intimidation and retribution. Getting specific personal information on a known lawbreaker is not surveillance.

    Civil liberties are not boundaries to the law, they are part of the law. They are boundaries to those who enforce it (to prevent abuse), and to those who create it (to prevent laws which contradict our rights).

  20. “#28 posted by OM Author Profile Page, April 2, 2008 6:04 PM

    …Amazing that such products of selective inbreeding could have come up with such a scam. Wonder if the bad guys had a black horse to put that stolen saddle on?”

    Nah, the horse likely is the product of selective inbreeding. There is nothing selective in the breeding of trailer trash.

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