Published on June 13, 2014
MONROE - Craigslist is a popular site when trying to find that perfect deal on a rental home or apartment. Experts warn some of these rental ads aren't what they seem. We decided to take a look. On our Craigslist search we found this house for rent. The problem is this home’s not for rent - it's for sale. “I think it’s a huge deal,” said Shane Wooten, the realtor for this home in Monroe. His properties have become the target of a common scam, aimed at taking your money. "It looks like they're trying to scam them out of their deposit and first months rent," adds Wooten. He says scammers copy and paste the sale ad's from legitimate realtor sites to Craigslist as rental ads. "I can usually tell when one hits craigslist because I’ll usually get 20 to 30 phone calls that day." They then pretend to be out of town on business or personal matters, and give only an email address as a point of contact. Usually they'll ask for money up front on a deal too good to miss. "You'll have a house that's supposed to rent for $950-1000 a month, and they'll have it renting for $600 a month,” says Wooten During our conversation, he shows us text messages from one scammer who says he'll mail the keys to this house if Wooten wires money for a deposit and first months rent. Jo Ann Deal of the Better Business Bureau says scammers are getting better at making themselves out to be realtors. "We’re really concerned for our real estate agents with this scam," says Deal. She says that realtors have to be more on top of their vacant homes in order to protect their businesses. So how can you tell if the house you want is really for rent? She says if the home owner lives out of the country, can't meet face to face or asks for a payment through a money wire it's probably a scam. “There are some catch-lines you watch for,” says Deal. “If the marketing is really good but there's no phone number, no physical address and they will communicate with you only by email and you can do it today, then it's probably a scam." You should always report fishy ad's to Craigslist or the BBB and never send money through a wire transfer.