This is another tried and true scam that keeps cropping up. Recently there were reports of phony apartment listings on Carigslist for New York City apartments and a California youth soccer team that was scammed when it thought it was renting a house in Palm Springs for their state tournament. In both cases, the victims lost the money they sent to the scammers who had no connection with the real estate. Sometimes scammers will hijack real rental listings and alter the advertisements. Other times the scammers will create phony ads for property they do not own or for property that does not even exist.
Whenever possible, meet the person renting the property in person at the property. Also, confirm through local real estate tax records that the person actually owns the real estate he or she is seeking to rent to you. Always be wary if you are asked to wire money because once it is wired, the money is gone. Check with the Better Business Bureau, local attorney general or Federal Trade Commission to assist in confirming that the renter is not a scammer.