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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Beware of Internet Rental Scams

[Published March 25, 2015, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in four Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

It happened again this week.  I got a call from someone who saw a craigslist post advertising one of my listings for rent at a bargain rate.  Fortunately, this person realized it was a scam and was kind enough to tell me.  She agreed to flag the posting so that craigslist would remove it, and I immediately hung the sign rider at right under my “for sale” sign in front of the house. 

This kind of scam has been propagated for years, which is why I have this ready-to-use sign rider in my office. What happens is that someone, usually in Nigeria, scans the internet for homes for sale, then advertises them for rent on craigslist. (Scammers don’t want to spend money, of course, to list them on or another web site that charges for listings.)  Scammers usually target vacant listings because their victims can be expected to go to the home and peek through the windows.

The scammer will typically tell a story of serving as a missionary in Africa, saying that their house isn’t selling, and they just want a renter who, for a super-low rent will “love the house as much as we do.”  They say to wire the first month’s rent plus a security deposit, and they’ll mail you the keys.  Sellers are never hurt by this scam, but I hate to hear of would-be renters being hurt, which is why I rush to put up the sign rider.  Be careful out there! Only rent from someone who can meet you in person at the property.


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