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If you follow the link she provides, the website asks you for your credit card number — y'know, so it can do a background check to make sure you're not a criminal. My favorite scam: One individual tried to get me to buy him or her virtual currency in online games like Maple Story before agreeing to hand over contact information. I decided I would have to take the initiative, so in addition to posting my own ads, I started responding to every ad from any woman who seemed at all interesting.I cast a wide net in my searches, looking up posts by straight or bisexual women between the ages of 18 and 35 who lived anywhere in Chicagoland — a large metropolitan area that's home to close to five million females.

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It didn't take long to realize that almost all the replies I received were scams.The situation is so severe on Craigslist Casual Encounters that posts by real women who are actually seeking hook-ups are often flagged for removal at the slightest cause for suspicion. An alleged woman will write a man saying she's interested, but that because of the Craigslist-based serial killers and rapists in the news, she needs some extra assurance that it's safe. The week was half over and I hadn't had a single bite.The prostitutes of Craigslist speak in code, but it's not a difficult one to learn.They advertise "French lessons" — an odd thing to advertise under "Casual Encounters," don't you think?All the responses I got from real people on my first day weren't from women — they were from men.

I made it very clear in my post that I was only interested in women, but a large number of men chose to ignore that. I responded to them politely, saying, "Just interested in women, but thanks for the offer!

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It turned out that most of the ads were fakes from scammers, and quite a few fell into another category all together.

Prostitution is what made Craigslist controversial. There's technically another section for that — "Adult Services," formerly "Erotic Services" — but that's not the only place you'll find practitioners of the world's oldest profession.

But if you're interested, read on for the story of my seven days on Craigslist's Casual Encounters — my failures, near misses, discoveries, insights and successes.