The next time you see a home for rent in Craigslist at a price that looks too good to be true, think twice: it might be.
Both prospective renters and property owners wanting to rent their homes are finding themselves victimized by con artists, who troll Craigslist for vacant properties and post their own ads in the hopes of scamming a few hundred or thousand dollars by “renting” a house.
Some of the frauds are caught by the tenants, who see multiple ads for the same property but at different monthly rents. And one ad posted recently by a property owner boldly stated that her property was being fraudulently “listed” by a person she named outright.
According to Laura Upland of the Solano County District Attorney’s Office, many of the suspects are Nigerian, having honed their careers previously in credit card fraud.
In one instance in Vallejo, a woman seeking to rent a house called the number in the ad after her rental application was approved in 20 minutes without her providing her social security number or bank account numbers. She was uncomfortable about sending her deposit via Western Union. When she asked the so-called owner to describe where Vallejo was, he hung up the phone.
Renters: one way to protect yourselves is to ask a Realtor to run a title report to see if the name of the owner on title matches that of the caller. It’s not a perfect system but could help the renter lose his or her money to a thief.
Read the Full Article in the Vallejo Times Herald.