CraigsList Rental Scams

Are you in the market for a new place to live and dealing with a realtor seems to be out of the question?  Where do you turn?  A lot of people think that Craigslist holds many great opportunities for low cost rental properties.  

But before you begin your search or sign on the dotted line, be aware that there are many unscrupulous people using Craigslist, posing as rental agents, just to get your personal and financial information. 

The number of fake rental scams on Craigslist and other online classifieds continues to grow, with new aliases appearing daily. But while the names may change, the methods are always the same.  Don’t believe these ads appear only on Craigslist.  They could show up anywhere!

These thieves, mainly based in Nigeria, the U.K. and the U.S., are out to steal your money and your identity.  However, the scammers could be in your own back yard.

The Better Business Bureau advises to be on the lookout for the following for avoiding Craigslist apartment rental scams:

  • The email addresses they use usually are from yahoo, ymail, rocketmail, fastermail, live, hotmail and gmail, and they also post ads under anonymous craigslist addresses. They frequently change their aliases.
  • The deal sounds too good to be true. Scammers will often list a rental for a very low price to lure in victims. Find out how comparable listings are priced, and if the rental comes in suspiciously low, walk away.
  • They use photos stolen from other property advertisements or from home furnishing catalogs or hotel websites.
  • They use fake names, often stolen from Facebook profiles or networking sites. Often they assume the identities of previous victims.
  • What they all have in common is that sooner or later you get a request to transfer funds via Western Union, Moneygram or some other wire service.
  • Never under any circumstances, wire money at the request of any prospective “landlord” via Western Union, Money Gram or any other wire service.  Even if they tell you to wire the funds to a friend or relative’s name “to be safe,” it’s a trap!
  • Always check to see if the “company” has any complaints.

For more tips, visit the Better Business Bureau.