In an effort to claim deposits and more from unsuspecting renters, scam artists are using actual real estate listings and then passing themselves off as the landlords through postings on Craigslist, a popular website that offers free classified advertising. After a call to her office last week, Kassab learned that not one but two of her “For Sale” listings without her knowledge were being advertised as rental houses on Craigslist.
“When we received a call about the first one being listed as rental property, there were several red flags,” Patti Kassab, Dee Kassab’s assistant, said. “First of all, we knew it wasn’t for rent, it was for sale, and secondly, we don’t advertise on Craigslist.”
The caller responded to the ad. The response she received was that yes, the house was still available and they would love to show it…after of course she filled out an application which asked for credit information, etc. Knowing it was a scam, the caller didn’t fill out the application, but did let The Kassab Team in on the response.
From New York to Florida to Kentucky to Washington State, similar scams have been reported that are stealing people’s identity and money. And it isn’t just through an e-mail but also face-to-face. Take for example a recent case in Sacramento, where a renter in the middle of eviction decided to raise money for his next place. He placed an ad on Craigslist offering to rent the very apartment from which he was being evicted. It wasn’t until he had four prospective tenants give him a deposit that he was busted.
Craigslist has posted some suggestions to increase public awareness of these scamming techniques. One simple rule to avoid 99% of the scam attempts on Craigslist is to NEVER GIVE OUT FINANCIAL INFORMATION (bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.)
“Everyone should always be very leery about giving out personal information to an unauthorized person over the Internet,” Kassab said. “As far as we know, we have only had two listings targeted in this way, but we are going to have to be vigilant, and so are the people in the Joplin community.”