August 23, 2018

Buyer Beware: Craigslist Rentals

The real estate industry is a magnet for wire fraud schemes, phishing attempts, and the like. Scammers manage to worm their way into every aspect of the home buying and selling process. Without proper vigilance, a real estate scam can easily lead to a lost sale or a savings account in ruins. Those who seek to own homes aren’t the only target, though. Rental property scams are just as rampant.

Craigslist rental scams are particularly frustrating for members of the Greater Lehigh Valley REALTORS® (GLVR). Association staff often field questions from members seeking guidance on how to regain control of a property they represent.

In most cases reported to GLVR, scammers replicate a listing found on the Internet, but they change important details like price, amenities and, most importantly, contact information. Email is usually the only way to communicate with the “landlord,” who is coincidentally out of town and unable to meet the prospective client in person. This leads to the “landlord” requesting deposits by wire transfer and… well… you know the rest.

So, what steps can you take if your listing has been hijacked?

1.    Report the scam directly to Craigslist - https://sfbay.craigslist.org/contact
2.    Fil a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission - https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov
3.    Submit an Internet crime complaint with the Internet Fraud Complaint Center - https://www.ic3.gov
4.    If you are defrauded by someone you met in person, contact your local police department.