It was only a matter of time before a new Craigslist scam hit the news stands.
This time police in Cedar Rapids, Iowa are dealing with a handful of complaints and reports since the spring of 2011 with a fraudster advertising a rental property to prospective renters on Craigslist.com.
Personally, I’ve always been wary of Craigslist.com. But that’s probably because I was raised in a time when the Internet was still scary; a vast, barren territory that no one was quite sure of. Heck, I’m still paranoid of eBay!
A scammer has been posting on Craigslist that there is an opening for an apartment they are renting out in Cedar Rapids. The lister is not meeting face to face with interested renters but rather asking for a deposit to secure their rental. Once the money is sent the renter is ready to move in. Except for one small problem, the residence is already taken and those running the property have no clue who this person is that’s trying to move into their establishment.
The scammer appears to be operating out of Iowa’s borders so there is very little the police can do without Federal help.
Twenty four year old, Krystin Allen, almost became a victim to this scam when she was searching for a new home. To her surprise she found a two-bedroom rental for $500 a month.
“It looked just like any other rental ad,” Allen said. “It had a couple pictures down at the bottom.” – Source.
When she messaged the poster about the ad he swiftly responded with a message saying he’d moved out of town and couldn’t meet her at the property. However, if she wired him $1,000 he would send over the lease and keys via courier service.
Allen became suspicious and conducted a search for the address listed only to find the actual local owners’ property management site. Upon contacting owner’s Keith and Susan Smith she learned this was not the first time they had heard of this rouse; they’ve been battling it since last spring.
The couple now includes their phone number right on photos of the property, so scammers are forced to crop it, if they want to steal the picture. – Source
As always, people need to be cautious and mindful of listings they find on the Internet. Scams happen; often to those of us needing help the most. I’m not insinuating that all Internet listings are scams but just warning Internet users to be wary! Also, never, ever, ever wire or send money to someone who won’t meet you face to face. That just reeks of trouble.
NBC Philadelphia recently covered a similar story which can be seen here.
If you have been scammed and would like to file a scam report, please click here.