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John, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Licensed and practicing attorney.
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I want to find out who posted a fake ad about me on Craigslist

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Someone posted a fake ad on Craigslist about me and I want to ID them. Is that realistic? CL wants a subpoena to get to give the account information. I am wondering if the information I will receive is worth the cost of a subpoena? My guess would be that CL would give information about the "person" who set up the account (name, email address, etc.) and the IP address. Then would I need to subpoena the IP address owner for those records? What if they were using free WiFI somewhere? Seems hopeless?

Hi, thanks for submitting your question today.

It is going to be quite a process to get a subpoena. Only a court with an active lawsuit can issue a subpoena. So you’d have to file a lawsuit against (claiming defamation of character) a John Doe defendant, then have the court issue you a subpoena to Craigslist. This probably would get you the identity with one caveat. Craigslist does not cost anything to use. Thus people can freely set up a fake email address and id and create a fake account. Your hope then would be that Craigslist keeps the IP address of account holders, then you would check the IP address in search engine, like WhatsMyIPAddress, to find the account holders ISP. Then you’d have to have a second subpoena issued to the ISP to locate the person’s (or the account holder’s) identity. Quite a bit of work if you ask me, and probably not worth pursuing unless you were genuinely financially harmed by the posting.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks for your quick response. I just can't imagine anyone posting something fake would use their real information or do it from an identifiable IP address (like at home). If I did get an IP address from CL -traced it and then subpoena the owner of the IP - what if it was a wi fi - like Starbucks? Could they then trace it to an actual individual computer by some internal computer ID? I know there is something called a MAC address, but from what I read, it does't really help. This all really isn't worth my time and money if I can't trace it back to an actual person and from your response (and researching on the web) it doesn't seem realistic. Seems like a internet loop hole....

If they went to an internet cafe/hotspot, there would be no way to track them. It would only work if a) they were stupid enough to give Craigslist their actual ID, or 2) logged in from their home account.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

That is what I thought. Sigh. Thank you.

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