Avoiding Craigslist Rental Scams

    In the wake of Hurricane Florence, many homeowners are in need of temporary rentals. Craigs List scams have always been an issue, but we are seeing more people take advantage of the current situation. Our company Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage posted the below article on how to avoid rental scams on Craigs List.

    (adapted from an article in The Mortgage Reports published March 6, 2018)

    How it works

    • The scammer copies and pastes information from a legitimate rental ad, and then offers a price that’s literally “too good to be true.”
    • If you respond to the fake ad, the scammer may invite you to drive by the property to view the exterior. What they will not do is give you a tour of the interior. That’s because they are “on vacation” or otherwise unavailable to show the place.
    • If you decide to move forward, the con artist will ask you to wire the first month’s rent and a security deposit via Western Union, PayPal or even iTunes.
    • Once that happens, kiss your money goodbye.
    • Some victims don’t even realize they’ve been conned until they show up with a moving van and discover that someone else is already living in the unit.

    Red flags

    • You don’t get a tour of the unit’s interior by the landlord, broker or building manager.
    • The “owner” insists on payment in advance and wants the funds sent by wire transfer.
    • Also, the listing details may be vague or not match up with the neighborhood or building. (For example, the ad might mention a large swimming pool in a neighborhood with tiny lots.)
    • A dead giveaway is when listing photos have MLS watermarks. This indicates that whoever posted the ad doesn’t have the original photos and, therefore, probably doesn’t own the property.
    • Perform a reverse image scan of the photos. You can right-click the images and select “Search Google for image” to see if the pictures have been used elsewhere.

    Prevention Tips

    • Legitimate landlords will arrange a tour of the interior. And they will usually accept a personal check, cashier’s check or money order for the first month’s rent and security.
    • Never send advanced payment! Money shouldn’t change hands until a lease is signed.

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