More and more people are using Craigslist as a source for home rentals, however enterprising scammers are using Craigslist to put phony listings and tricking people into sending money as a security deposit or first month’s rent before they find out that the scammer does not own the home. This was the unfortunate situation that happened recently to Renata Cox who was moving along with her three children to Nashville, Tennessee. She went on Craigslist and found a great deal for a rental in a nice neighborhood. Ms. Cox wired $1,100 to the scammer living in, of all places, Nigeria and finally learned that the home was not owned by the person who took her money at the time she went to move in. Now she is homeless and out $1,100.
The vast majority of the listings on Craigslist are legitimate, but you only have to be cheated by one to feel the pain. When the rent looks too good to be true, you should immediately be skeptical. When the landlord is out of the country and wants you to wire money, you should be even more skeptical and if by out of the country we mean Nigeria, you should really be skeptical. Scammers prefer people to wire money because unlike a check or a credit card payment, it is almost impossible to stop payment or get the money back. If you are considering a place on Craigslist, confirm that the person who says he or she is the owner by going to the tax assessors listings which are available online. If the names don’t match, that is a recipe for disaster. Also, go on line and see if you can find a duplicate listing for the home you find on Craigslist. Often scammers merely copy legitimate listings and change the name. If you find a duplicate listing with a different name, you should avoid doing business with that person.