There's a new Craigslist Scam!

By
Real Estate Agent with RLAH Real Estate AB95346

You have a house you want to rent, or maybe you just want a roommate to fill up some empty rooms in your too big house.  So you post your ad (along with all of the scam listings) on good ol' Craigslist. 

Then the inquiries start to roll in.   But not all of them want to rent your place.  Some want to empty your checking account!

Here's how it goes:

  • The reply makes the would-be tenant sound ideal.  She is a research fellow currently on a research ship currently in Antarctica, and cell phone service is sketchy to non-existent, but her email works.
  • She is coming to your area to take a position with an international company you've never heard of but it sounds impressive nonetheless.
  • She is French-American, and her rent will be paid from her family trust set up by her American father who is living in California.
  • There may be some unusual requests, like being willing to sign for her car when the driving service arrives to drop it off at the property.
  • She is willing to guarantee a full year's rent, even paying it all in advance.

Recently, I used Craigslist and Roommates.com to try to find a someone to fill up a vacant part of my house.  I received several inquiries that were variations on the theme spelled out above on my listings for both sites.  Roommates.com flagged all of them as scammers.  Craigslist did not. 

And I'm guessing they do whatever the folks who want to send you your winnings from the Nigerian National Lottery.  They get your bank information then find some way to suck your account dry. 

So it's like finding a place on Craigslist - follow the same basic, common sense rules. 

  • Deal with people locally
  • Don't rent to someone you have not met personally.
  • Do not give out any of your own personal financial information.
  • Ask for and check references, and get permission to order a copy of their credit report.

If you're renting out an entire house or apartment,, using a professional property manager or Realtor to find and vett your tenants is a great risk minimizer.

And however you find someone to rent or share a place with, there is that old test that still applies - if it sounds too good to be true, it is! 

Comments (8)

Debbie Reynolds, C21 Platinum Properties
Platinum Properties- (931)771-9070 - Clarksville, TN
The Dedicated Clarksville TN Realtor-(931)320-6730

That is scary. I no longer use Craiglist for real estate as I had scammers too many times. Recently I had one of my MLS listings show up on Craiglist and it was a scam. A member of the public made me aware and the property was flagged.

One house in our area was rented 7 times through Craiglist but the culprit was the owner. 7 people lost money.

May 29, 2016 01:00 PM
Lisa Von Domek
Lisa Von Domek Team - Dallas, TX
....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless!

Just another reason why I do not use Craigslist...

Best wishes on your roommate search!

May 29, 2016 01:57 PM
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Yup I have heard of this one too...sad that folks scam others

May 29, 2016 11:26 PM
Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI
HomeSmart Realty West & Lend Smart Mortgage, Llc. - Carlsbad, CA
Presence, Persistence & Perseverance

Patricia Kennedy It never ceases to amaze me that in today's high-tech world, Craigs List is either unwilling, or unable to do better.

May 30, 2016 03:34 AM
Dick Greenberg
New Paradigm Partners LLC - Fort Collins, CO
Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate

Hi Pat - That's a new one for me. There's never a shortage of scams and scammers - that's a lot of wasted energy and evil action.

May 30, 2016 04:28 AM
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

That is the online rule to live by.  If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.  And dealing in person is critical with cash or cashier's checks.

May 30, 2016 04:58 AM
William Feela
WHISPERING PINES REALTY - North Branch, MN
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

Just found out tonight i am losing a tenent and Craig's List is the last place I will go to advertise.

May 30, 2016 01:01 PM
Libby Cousins
Extraordinary Processing - Spokane, WA
Contract Mortgage Processor, licensed in WA

I won't use Craigslist to find a tenant either. Too risky!

May 31, 2016 08:49 AM