Online housing scam hits Mitchell
If it's advertised on Craigslist, it's not always for sale. A local scam on the popular Internet website has created confusion for those looking for a place to live and for those trying to sell houses. Scammers copy a real estate agency's listing...
If it's advertised on Craigslist, it's not always for sale.
A local scam on the popular Internet website has created confusion for those looking for a place to live and for those trying to sell houses.
Scammers copy a real estate agency's listings of houses for sale and advertise the listings on Craigslist as rental properties.
"I've had people calling me about for-rent properties and I've had to tell them that they are only for sale," said Denny Robinson, an agent for Fischer, Rounds and Associates.
The Craigslist advertisements often include a desire for payment via money order or wire transfer for the first month, clear signs of a scam, according to both Craigslist and Robinson.
Robinson said in one instance, scammers wrote a flowery e-mail to the interested party, describing the property and saying it is a turn-key property ready for a renter. The scammers also asked for someone who's responsible to take care of the house while the supposed owners are in the United Kingdom and said they wanted to keep the rent affordable while they were gone.
The scammers finished the email by saying they would need a $600 security deposit wired to them in Europe.
"I'd hate to see someone send a $600 deposit to one of these guys, because you know you'll never see it again," Robinson said.
He's heard of similar scams in other areas, including Aberdeen.
Craigslist advises its users to avoid giving out financial information online, and to meet people in person if making a deal.
"We hate to see people being taken advantage of," Robinson said. "If you see something online as being for rent and you drive by and see that it's for sale, it would probably be in your best interest to call the real estate agency and find out for sure."
Robinson said he hasn't had any issues with Craigslist, which has quickly removed the postings. He said the old adage still rings true.
"If it sounds like it's too good to be true, it probably is."