Your Stories: Craigslist rental scam
Updated: Wednesday, July 10 2013, 04:39 PM EDT
Brockport, N.Y. --- Imagine putting your home up for sale only to find out that days later some stranger began listing it for rent on Craigslist.
That is what happened to a Brockport couple, only their real estate agent caught onto the scam and then contacted 13WHAM News to fill us in.
Gini Denninger first became suspicious when she started fielding calls from people interested in renting her sister’s Brockport home which she’d just placed on the market for sale.
"People wanted to rent the property instead of buy the property,” Denninger explained. “[It] sort of got me a little concerned. [I} checked into it and it looks like it is part of a scam."
After some investigating Denninger discovered a fake Craigslist posting listing the property for rent. She noticed it was creatively forged using online real estate listings for the same property. The rental price, just $800 per month, was too good to pass up for such a large spacious home in Brockport.
"A house like this would probably rent for anywhere between twelve and sixteen hundred a month here in Brockport," Denninger said.
The scammer even responded to prospective tenants with an email address that matched the name of the property owner. And in those replies the scammer would explain that he was doing missionary work in West Africa and that recent attempts to sell the property were not successful so if a “For Sale” sign is noticed out front of the home it should be ignored.
“They claimed that the house was put on the market, they didn't sell it and they decided to rent it out,” Denninger said of a reply one prospective tenant shared with her. “So of course if somebody comes by and sees a for sale sign, no problem, that's explained away."
The scammer appears to be after a tenant’s first month's rent and security deposit. A form is sent to the prospective tenant to fill out under the assumption that if they send this fake landlord the money they will get to lease the home.
An online search of this scam shows plenty of warnings from around the country. Denninger blogged her own warning and posted a new Craigslist ad saying that any prior rental listings on that property were the result of this scam.
"I put the ad up saying that this is a scam. That brought a lot of people out of the woodwork to me,” Denninger said. “Of course they were upset and unhappy and they said I wasted my time, my money, one person said I'm so glad you put this ad up because I was going to send the money this morning."