To post on Craigslist or not to post on Craigslist is a tough question?
Before you get all up in arms over my hesitation, know that I just posted a rental listing there because I know that Northern Virginia renters use Craigslist to find apartments all the time… and they love the freedom of it.
In the best interests of my clients, I too will go where the people are looking.
The real estate scammers are here too…
But this is where the Nigerian scammers go too. They will re-post a rental on Craigslist for $500 less fishing for a victim who is looking for a rare Internet deal. But those well intentioned renters who thought they were finding a great Internet deal were in reality falling deep into an African diamond mine.
The first time this scam came to my attention was when an old client, who has moved away, told me that people arrived at her door to rent her home. In fact, they had already sent off a deposit check to someone none of us knew. Oops.
In September, I read an excellent blog post from Kris Berg in California about the hassles created by scammers on her rental listings. As you may know, all you need to post an ad on Craigslist is a gmail or yahoo e-mail account. These accounts can be set up in minutes and then voila, the listing is posted. Let’s just say that Kris was a tad bitter at the hassles these people had created for many people in San Diego… who were all calling her!
After reading her post, I did some research and found “The Real Estate Bloggers” site which had an interesting FBI alert on the topic of Craigslist scammers. There were many comments on the blog post but this one really got to me:
Sounds like it to me, I just fell for a scam yesterday, cost me $700.00. I had no idea this stuff was going on till now. The scammer was smooth, he said his wife and him were Christians and were in Nigeria on business but would be back in a few years, wanted responsible renters to take care of their house for them as he built it himself. He emailed me regularly and called me a couple times too. Even sent us a rental agreement…. He said he would Fed Ex the keys to us after we made the deposit to him Western Union. today he called and wanted first and last months rent, that’s what got me as we told him we weren’t going to move in till next month. I can’t believe I was so stupid.
So let’s remember that there are folks trying to rip us off. Let’s be careful out there!
Here’s an update: Since I first wrote this article it has been viewed hundreds of times. But in 2011, this scam is still going on and good people are still sending money to scammers. An excellent article by Jay Thompson – a real estate guy in Phoenix – is worth a read.
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