Beware of Craigslist Rental or Home Sales Scams

The Craigslist Scams Continue

Craigslist Rental Scams continue in Tallahassee, Florida – Beware and Be Informed

Normally, I do not handle rentals of properties. My specialties are home sales, home buyers and investors and new construction sales. Occasionally, a customer does however make the financial decision to keep a home on the market until a sale can occur.

During our seller consultations, not only do we discuss sales profits and market values, but on occasion, losses and the financial effects on customers who are upside down in a mortgage situation, etc. While Realtors are not qualified to give tax advice or lead a long term investment conversation, we can provide data including potential rental income and cost analysis on maintaining a home as a rental property. We work closely with tax accountants who provide important tax consequences to customers and with maintenance persons when considering long term repairs and replacement costs, a factor of consideration for any rental property. Never at any time will a Realtor as for a rental payment to come directly to them, or not have you fill out a formal, standardized rental or credit application.

As a result of taking the occasional rental listing, we utilize various forms of advertising, both online and print advertising. Scammers have gotten very sophisticated. We know that many of these groups operate from Africa, some linked to high crime networks of identity theft rings, etc. When scamming rental advertising sites such as Craigslist sites, they  use an owner’s name, set up fake email accounts, usually through yahoo or some other non-traceable email system, and they scrape listing photographs, home information and advertise listings on Craigslist for rent. They have an email responder link to their fake accounts, and from there begin communications about the property, asking for information such as the following:

Information  taken directly from a scammer’s email just today:

Hello ,tanant

Thanks for your interest about out3bedrooms,3Bath,Sip1,1,706sqftsqft family home. It is still available for rent and we would be needing a good and honest family to take care of it.

*ADDRESS:1651 Shadowmoss Avenue #IV,Tallahassee FL 32308
* Fireplace:* Yes
*Washer Dryer:* Yes
*Pet Policy:* Allowed
My family and I are currently in west Africa for a new job i just acquired down here with Chevron.Before we left the states,we searched for a God fearing and reputable agent to handle the rent and help us walk interested people through to have a proper viewing of the inside but we couldn’t get anyone then. We left with the keys,remote and the papers.I’m willing to rent out the home to a tenant who is able to come up with first month’s rent of $900and security deposit of $800.I will like him/her to assure me that our house will be properly managed.

We need someone or a family that will take good care of our home as their own property.If you can assure me that you can take proper care of our home and also you can afford the move in deposit, kindly confirm your interest by getting back to me with the  below application details. Note that the house keys,remote and the papers will be ship to you by  via FedEx courier service

RENT APPLICATION FORM AND TELL US MORE ABOUT YOU .

1) Your Full Name
2A) Home Phone ?
2B) Cell Phone Number ?
3) Your Full Address :
4) How old are you?
5a) Are you married?
5b) How many people will be living in the house?
6a) Do you have a pet?
6b) What type
7a) Do you have a car?
7b) What type?
8) Occupation?
9) Do you smoke?
10) Do you Drink ?
11) Do you work at Night ?
12) What is your monthly income?
13) Reference Contact Name and Address?
14) When do you intend Moving in?
15) private email :
16 ) picture of you and your family?
17) When can you pay for your deposit to
secure or move in?

Notice : Call me immediately you fill out the application
Looking forward to hear from you with all this details so that we can have it our file in case of issuing the receipt for you and contacting you..

Thanks and you are welcome.

You can give me a call
on+2347045070549
Best Regards

Usually, there is no name to correspond to and of course, this phone number is a farce.  The stories are similar, “got called away for a job, looking for someone to take care of our home, has someone handling the money for them, wire it or deposit it, and even sometimes mail it to a PO Box. ”  They always use the owner’s name or some derivative of it, claiming to be the owners or sons/daughters of the owners.

So far, I’ve had six homeowners whose identities and properties were affected by this scam. In one case, an educated professional sent in over $4000 in rent, and showed up at my seller’s door wanting to know why they were not moved yet!  After-all, the potential tenants had sent them their money, so they thought!  Upon review of the emails, comprised of broken English, sentences that do not make good sense, and all of which are vaguely similar, we were able to determine that the potential renters had been scammed.

There are no local authorities who handle this. Because there is no live-person money exchange, there is generally no investigation into such matters.

For Your Protection: Here are the signs of a Craigslist Scam:

  1. The property is usually listed for sale or rent with a Realtor – always Google the property address first!
  2. The scammers always email their victims ( who have responded off Craigslist) and claim to be the owners, or children of owners.
  3. The scammers always have a gut wrenching story about their situation. I.e., Had to move, sudden job, family tragedy took them out of the country, etc.
  4. The sammers always violate Fair Housing Laws in the “Application Questions” ( a Realtor would never ask about your familial status or physical handicap, race or religion.)
  5. The scammers always have a third party – who will also email you – to handle details of payment, usually they promise to mail keys and paperwork, but never do of course because they don’t have them.
  6. The scammers usually ask for you to mail a deposit to a PO Box, or wire it to a bank account. DONT’ SEND ANY MONEY- EVER!!
  7. Scammers usually have rental priced way below market value to lure their victims into their trap.

In a nutshell, if you are renting a home in Tallahassee, FL, or anywhere as far as that goes, Call a Realtor, or a local property manager to assist you before you ever sign anything or write a rent check!  When in doubt about a property, Call a Realtor for verification that the property is available with a reputable listing source .

Realtors are REQUIRED to Disclose that they are REALTORS on Craigslist. Do not deal with anyone but a REALTOR when considering a rental.  Property Managers are reliable sources of information, but only licensed property managers!  Ask for the License!

Here’s a proper Craigslist Ad originating with a Realtor – Note it contains contact name, Brokerage name and a contact phone number! (And beautiful, up to date photos and information on the property!) http://tallahassee.craigslist.org/reb/2988300849.html.

2 thoughts on “Beware of Craigslist Rental or Home Sales Scams

  1. Thank you… if it wasn’t for this i will give up $800 for a rental housr in Oak Lawn ,Il. I am sad and worry because i did the rental application and gave my info and a picture of my family. SO i am very worr about it. Know i have to do something about it.

  2. I hope this article helped you. This scam is a terrible thing. #1 NEVER give information about your family, send photos, or give names to anyone. A rental application does not ask such questions. If you sent vital information, such as driver’s license numbers, telephone numbers, social security numbers etc. or dates of birth, immediately look into getting an identity theft protection plan. One such program is Like Lock: http://www.lifelock.com/. Be careful out there, always use a property manager or Realtor to help you with a rental!

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