The basics are:
Scam artists are using www.craigslist.com to locate home and condo rentals. They often involve the good 'ol, "I'm moving from Europe/Asia/Austrailia and my financier will send you a deposit check". When the check arrives, it is for much more than the agreed deposit. The "lessee" then contacts the landlord, stating that their "financier" accidentally included the "lessee's" travel expenses, etc in the deposit check - could the landlord kindly refund the overpayment? You know the rest.....the cashier's check isn't legit, and the landlord is out a wad of cash - and has no tenant.
This is particularly common in areas with a large renter pool, like near a university - so watch out, ASU landlords!
As always, if it seems fishy, RUN! Be sure to report anything suspicious to the authorities - you may help catch a criminal, and save some other naive soul from being conned!
Sharon Kotula, ABR
Adam Tarr, e-PRO
Your Phoenix Area Real Estate Source