Craigslist Rental Home Scam Alert!

The immense cold weather snap in the north has drawn more vacationers to Florida, including our great City of Cape Coral. Unfortunately, there is a scam that you should be aware of that could leave you without a place to stay and out a lot of money.

You can go on Craigslist for nearly anything. One of the most popular sections is for housing. This section includes apartments/housing, housing swap, housing wanted, office/commercial, parking/storage, real estate for sale, rooms/shared, rooms wanted, sublets/temporary, and vacation rentals.

This may have started as a good way for private individuals to connect with people to rent their homes, apartments, condos, etc., but it has become a breeding ground for criminal scammers.

There are some ways to help you recognize if the listing is a scam and to verify the authenticity of the person listing the property .

  • If it sounds to be too good to be true, it’s most likely a scam!
  • The listing does not include photos. This isn’t saying it’s definitely a scam, but it has a higher potential. Unfortunately, even listings with photos can be a scam. Some scams are of actual houses and will have the address and pictures to go with it. The problem…..they don’t own or have rights to the property.
  • Another popular way is where the house is an actual rental property. If you drive by or have someone else check out the property, they may find a “For Lease” sign outside. The person listing the property will attempt to have the prospective renter give payment for the lease or deposit. You may even request to see the property to determine if it’s a scam. Be aware, the criminals have this covered too. They may claim that there are renters currently in the property or the owner is out of town, so you can’t go into the property. They may even tell you to hurry and send the down payment to hold the property because the schedule fills up quickly.
  • The listing doesn’t include an address of the property is more likely to be a scam.
  • If the email address or domain just doesn’t look right, do your own research to verify it’s identity.
  • The person listing the property wants your personal information, such as bank account, Social Security Number, etc. They may even say that this is for a credit check, but without doing this in person or at the least verifying the actual property owners are the ones actually listing the property, you could be getting scammed.
  • Verify the name of the owner on the local property appraisers website. You can also see if the picture listed on the site matches the one in the listing.
  • Never pay cash, so you will at least have a trail even if they give you a receipt. Just because they ask you to pay by a verifiable source, such as PayPal, doesn’t automatically mean it isn’t a scam.
  • This will most likely cost a little more, but consider using a verified broker.

There are scams everywhere and you can be a victim very easily if you allow them to take advantage of you. Due your research! Don’t fall for the quick, easy, cheap deals.

If you have been or suspect you might be the victim of a scam you should contact your local law enforcement agency to report the potential crime.