Following a six-month undercover investigation by the BBC, classified advertisements website Craigslist has come under scrutiny in the UK for facilitating illicit trade.
Investigation by BBC Inside Out reporter Jonathan Gibson, showed how easy it currently is to purchase bootleg cigarettes and fake tobacco, as well as buy drugs and stolen passports through Craigslist.
“It’s as easy to find marijuana on Craigslist as it is to find a second-hand sofa,” the reporter said. This was despite the website clearly stating under its terms and conditions that the sale of illegal and illicit products and services on the platform was prohibited.
In one of the undercover scenes, the seller of fake tobacco stated that although the product was counterfeit there was no significant difference between the counterfeit and the original product other than the price point.
“I’m shocked at what’s there because it’s not difficult for the internet companies to put elements on to their websites to be able to police this sort of stuff – and they should be policing it and taking it down… The amount of organized crime sitting behind there is frightening and it’s critical, I think, that the police force or law enforcement agencies force the likes of Craigslist to do something about it”, said Philip Ingram, an intelligence and security expert
According to BBC Inside Out, they reached out to Craigslist for a comment to address the results from their undercover investigation but the company reportedly declined to provide a response.
Following the airing of the program, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) has called for tougher law and for websites such as Craigslist, that have failed to prevent illicit activity on their sites to be treated as being “complicit in [the] cybercrime.”
“If there are people that are using their sites for criminal activity then they are allowing that, they are complicit in that by allowing that to happen,” said Clive Grunshaw, the APCC cybercrime lead.