Watch Out for CraigsList Rental Scams

A new twist was just reported from South County to the Craig’s List rental scams. A local real estate firm reported that someone stopped in that had placed an ad on Craigslist looking for a rental.  The prospect was contacted (via e-mail) by someone who sounded very legitimate and presented themselves as the owner of a property they had for sale. The “owner/scammer” said they didn’t want her to call the listing agent because they were renting it on the side and didn’t want to pay a commission.  Thankfully she never sent any money to the person.  Want to know what a typical rental scam is and how to deal with it?  Here goes…

A scammer copies listing information from a for-sale website, and places the home “for rent” on Cragislist. The rentals price is often an amazing deal and the renter is required to send deposit monies to secure their week/term of 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. 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!)prohibited
  • Send the details of the scam to:
  • 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: (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: