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Bogus rental home posting on Craigslist is rampant scam, BBB warns

Posted at 6:01 PM, Aug 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-29 18:51:38-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- A Richmond property owner is warning anyone who is looking to rent a home about a scam targeting his property and your money.

A posting for a rental home on Craigslist didn’t take long to attract potential renters. Who wouldn’t jump on a three-bedroom home, more than 2000 sq. feet, for only $850 a month?

The property owner, who wanted to remain anonymous, says the home isn’t for sale and a scammer is trying to swindle the unexpected out of their money.

CBS 6 went to the address and found a man who saw the Craigslist ad and was interested in the home.

“Yeah, I saw a listing on Craigslist,” said Jared Vai. “They asked for my personal email which I knew was kind of weird to ask. Just wanted to check it out in person to see if there were signs or anyone at home.”

“Little too good to be true,” he added.

The homeowner tells CBS 6 that he didn’t post the ad on Craigslist or give anyone else permission to do so. The property owner, who has a tenant living there, is concerned about the number of strangers showing up at the home because of the Craigslist ad and the potential for those folks to get scammed out of their money.

“We list our houses legitimately and people copy the ads and put their own information in. They get the money and they’re gone,” said the property owner.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says this is a well-known scam that is rampant.

The tenant tells CBS 6 Problem Solvers one woman came to her door and said she was asked to wire $750 to get the home. She says she warned the lady not to do it.

“It’s a bummer... such a bummer. It’s unfortunate,” said Vai.

The owner says they alerted Craigslist about the ad.

“The ad was taken down, and within a day or so, it was back up,” said the property owner. “It makes me sad. They’re trying to get something for nothing and are using my property to make money. Sometimes I don’t even know about it.”

BBB officials say you should always meet the landlord in person and never give out personal information, especially financial information when replying to an online advertisement.

Tips to Avoid This Scam:

  • Watch out for deals that are too good. Scammers lure you in by promising low rents, extra amenities, and a great location. If the price seems much better than offered elsewhere, it may be a scam.
  • Search online for similar properties. Do a quick search for the listing, scammer’s email address, or phone number. If you find the same ad listed in other cities, that’s a huge red flag.
  • See the property in person. Don’t send money to someone you’ve never met for an apartment you haven’t seen. If you can’t visit an apartment or house yourself, ask someone you trust to go and confirm that it is what was advertised.

For more tips, click here.

CBS 6 News is working for you. Click here to email a tip to the CBS 6 Problem Solvers. Be sure to leave us your name, phone number and detailed description of the problem. You can also leave a message by calling 804-254-3672.