We often hear very sad stories about would-be renters who are scammed out of security deposits, first month’s rents, and sometimes more. One thing that is always in common – they found the “rental” on Craigslist.
The most common Craigslist scam are “Cloned listings”. These scammers steal real pictures from real listings for sale and post them to sites like Craigslist as rentals. Usually the rental rates are significantly below market.
Here’s some red flags to note:
- You won’t be able to tour the inside of the property before you send in your deposit. You’ll hear stories from the scammers – they are out of town, there is a tenant in there, or with COVID-19, the home can’t be shown unless the lease is signed and money is wired. If the owner won’t let you personally visit the INSIDE of the property – move on to the next property.
- The price is really good. This is a competitive housing market for both buying and renting. If the price sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Look for grammatical mistakes in emails or messages. Many scammers operate overseas.
- Do a reverse Google image search with the listings’ photos to make sure they’re not an actively listed home for sale. Most of the time, you’ll find that the home is listed for sale.
Bottom line – don’t rent or purchase real estate sight-unseen. Use a real estate agent whenever possible. Never wire any money to anyone on Craigslist – it is generally a scam. If they ask for Venmo, Google Pay, Apple Pay, Cashapp, Zelle, prepaid gift cards, or anything like that, run for the hills.
If you are a victim of a rental scam, call your local police department, the Arizona Attorney General at 602-542-8888, or the FBI at https://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx/.
Did you know that the Klaus Team offers a Lease-Purchase program?
You can get more information on the Lease to Own program for those who are in-between renting and owning a home by clicking on the image below: