We post this about twice a year and we’re due now to alert you that they’re backkkk… new reports of the Craigslist scam in the Berkshires! A scammer copies listing information from a for-sale website, and places the home “for rent” on Cragislist, or responds to a rental housing “want” with details from an active listings. The rentals price is often an amazing deal and the renter is required to send deposit monies to secure their rental. The problem is that the home is not for rent and the owner knows nothing about it. It goes so far that the duped renters show up on the doorstep of the home seeking entry. In this last incident, the scammer actually told the prospect to ignore the for sale sign on the lawn and “don’t deal with the realtor, deal with me directly”! Sheesh, and it got better when the scammer went on to explain how wary they are of “fake renters”, and are won’t send keys without cash in hand. Here’s a reminder on what you should do as a real estate agent to help exasperated homeowners:
First, Preventive Action:
- Google Alert: For any property listed, you or the property owner should add a google alert for a property address. Whenever that newly address appears on the internet, you will receive an alert email with a link to the location. Many have located and removed fraudulent rental listings posted to Craigslist so quickly that there were no repercussions. (Our Video How-to Post from 2014)
- Not for Rent: The problem has gotten so bad in San Diego, REALTORS are marking their homes with a large notice that says “not for rent” on any listed homes for sale.
Action if You Discover a Fraudulent Post:
If you find a home posted fraudulently on Craigslist: You or the homeowner should;
- Hit Print Screen: Take a quick screen shot of the listing on your phone or computer to have access to a copy of the listing after it’s been removed by Craig’s list.
- Flag the rental listing by checking the prohibited button (there is no undo!)
- Send the details of the scam to: http://www.craigslist.org/contact
- Notify the homeowner, if they don’t already know.
- Notify the local police if you believe the house may be a target for duped renters seeking access.
- Have the homeowner file a complaint with: http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx (FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center)
Action for Duped Renters
If you encounter a renter who was taken for the rental deposit monies, they should be directed to: