Craigslist can be a very useful and valuable online tool for everything from selling that old lawn mower to finding tenants or buyers for your home. Many agents utilize the popularity of Craigslist to build a prospect list and find qualified buyers or tenants. However there are those who are also looking to take advantage of the anonymity of Craigslist and steal your money.
I recently listed a beautiful home for sale. Within a week I received an inquiry about this home as a rental. Since the home was not available for rent I asked the inquirer where she got her information and she sent me to a Craigslist link. Imagine my surprise when I found a picture I had taken of this home posted on in the ad. The ad appeared two days after my listing was originally activated.
The ad script was very brief but nonetheless enticing. The rent amount was listed as $700 per month or half the market value if in fact we were to rent it. It was time to take action to protect both my seller and prospective tenants who could be wooed into this scam.
The first step I took was to flag the Craigslist posting as “prohibited”. I also sent an email to firstname.lastname@example.org notifying them of the scam and unauthorized listing of the property. The prospective tenant who contacted me was sent an email notifying her that this was a scam and she should stop any correspondence with the person who posted the advertisement. Finally in an effort to protect others who may be drawn into a similar dishonest post I have contacted our local newspaper to write an article about this.
Since I took these actions I have received two other inquiries from prospective tenants. One of those called me to tell me she was suspicious since the “owner” sent her a picture of his family but she recognized a professional baseball player in the picture and became suspicious. The other prospect was also suspicious and was told not to contact me by the false “owner”.
Thank goodness for consumers who are as aware as these three! These false Craigslist ads are not new as an internet search will prove but appear relatively new to our area. Many unsuspecting tenants have sent money to these scammers only to find out they had no right to occupy the listed property and no way to get their money back.
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.