How To Tell If Real Estate On Craigslist Is A Scam

What is a Craiglist real estate rental scam?

Real Estate: Hijacked Ads and Phantom Rentals are the two most common types of Craigslist rental scams.  The scammer doesn’t own the property and has no right to sell it or the property don’t exist at all. In either case, they try to get you to send a deposit before you ever see the property. 

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Apart from the two listed above, there are other types of scams you can encounter on Craiglist:

  • Hijacked Ads: under this type of scam a scammer will pull pictures and information from real ads and reduce the price so people can believe it is a good offer.
  • Phantom Rentals: the scammer create a fake Craiglist ad for a property that doesn’t exist.
  • Bait and Switch:  Photos are used for a property that is not the unit being leased.
  • Missing Amenities:  Desirable amenities are listed that aren’t available for the unit.
  • Showing a vacant property. Sometimes a scammer will show a vacant property they have broken into to show you the property, meet them as a “landlord” and collect a deposit.
  • Occupied Home: The scammer will try to collect a deposit on a property that exists but is already occupied.

How to Spot Craiglist scam

  • Listing has no picture: 

While this does not always indicate a scam, these days almost everyone has a smartphone with a camera to snap a few photos of their leased home, business, room, or unit. If an advertisement for rental has NO images, beware.

Make sure to utilize Craigslist’s new anonymous email reply feature (which encodes your actual email address for your initial emails) and ask the user to add photos to their posting. Beware of photo files sent to you, that you have to download to open because of malware. 

  • Pay attention to the Photo:

There are several clues to look into with the photos to see if the listing is a Craiglist rental scam. A fake Craiglist rental will often have one photo or none at all, check if the style of the house in the picture matches houses in the part of the country.

A sleek, European studio or a home with palm trees is not something you would typically see in the greater Boston rental market. Rental scammers will run the same photo on 50-100 sites all over the world…. England, Sweden, Australia… all in hopes of a scammer reaching into a victim’s pocket with their fake Craigslist rental ad and other classified sites. The photo(s) may also be of a style that doesn’t match the country they claim the home is in.

They will copy all of the photos and the description as well.  But they will never allow you in to view inside the house.  If they even give you the real address, it will be for a driveby only or to view the surrounding of the house. Before sending a deposit, it could be prudent to run a Google reverse image search on a few of the photos to see if the rentals photos are showing up elsewhere.

  • Price is too good to be true: 

This is what is mostly used to trick people into believing a fake Craiglist rental ad. The price of property advertised under a fake Craiglist ad is always below fair market value for a monthly rent. There are fake rental listings that are typically 50% of what a landlord could charge for the property. 

The rental scammer plays on the emotion and greed of an unsuspecting renter.  They create a sense of urgency by underpricing their fake rental. 

And, with many metropolitan markets having a rental shortage, renters don’t want to miss the opportunity of a good deal.  But if a rental ad on Craigslist is too good to be true…. then it is probably a fake ad created by a scammer to get your deposit money.

  • There is no screening process: 

Having no screening process is a huge red flag. Most if not all Landlords want to know the kind person that will be living in their house. A proper rental screening includes pulling a credit score and asking questions about work history, salary, and rental history. 

Landlords go as far as contacting formal landlords of their prospective Tenants in other countries to show how important background screening is to landlords. 

Do not send money before a rental screening, you may be part of a Craigslist rental scam. Do not give any personal information, like a social security number before any showing of the property.

  • They want your personal information:

The moment someone asks you for personal information such as driver’s license, social security number, a credit card or sometimes your bank information, you can rest assured that it is almost guaranteed that the listing you sought is a scam and the person on the other end of the ad is gunning for your money and identity.

People fall victim to real estate scams on a regular basis. This is because they’re mostly not aware of various techniques scammers make use of. Whatever the case might be, if you are a victim of a real estate scam, you can get full recovery of your funds in few days. Contact DuoLab for real estate scam Recovery

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