Craigslist is a popular place for people looking to rent a home or an apartment that can be very efficient and cost effective for landlords and tenants alike. Unfortunately, it also is a very efficient way for scam artists to steal money from unwary people looking for a place to rent. The scam usually starts with a real estate listing that looks very official and there is a good reason for that. The listing is a real on line listing that has been copied by the scammer who merely puts in his or her name and contact information. The price is usually very low which attracts a lot of potential tenants. The potential tenants are usually told that the owner is out of the country and that there are many people interested in the property so if the tenant wants to be considered for renting it, the tenant has to wire money to the landlord somewhere outside of the country. As I have warned you many times, wiring money is a scammers first choice because it is all but impossible to retrieve once you have found out that you have been scammed. Too often, unwary potential tenants wire the money and never hear anything further from the scam landlord. And as for the money, it is gone forever.
There are a number of red flags to look for in Craigslist rental scams. First, as always, if the price is too good to be true, it usually is just that – not true. Also be wary of landlords who are out of the country and cannot meet with you in person. Never pay a deposit or any other money to a landlord or his or her agent whom you do not meet in person and take you into the property. Scammers won’t have keys. You also can check out who really is the owner by going on line to the tax assessor’s office of the city or town where the property is located and look up who the real owner is. If the names don’t match, it is a scam. This is how I found out in time that a Craigslist real estate listing that my own son and daughter-in-law were considering was a scam. You also can Google the address of the property. If you find that it is being listed by legitimate real estate agencies for sale, this is a good indication that the listing was forged from one of the legitimate real estate agencies. Taking a few careful steps can protect you from becoming a victim of this scam.