Our best tips to help protect your family while searching for a home
Realty Masters has seen a steady flow of Craigslist Scams over the past few years in the Pensacola area (although this is a nationwide problem). We want to tell you all we know about it! Our hope is that you will spread the word and will help us report the craigslist scammers so we can prevent others from being victims.
What does a rental home Craigslist Scam look like?
Scammers steal photos and a write up from a local real estate company that has the house listed for rent or for sale! They post an ad with the home for rent or sale at a much lower rental rate and say they fired the previous real estate company. The ads look very similiar to the other 500 rental ads on craigslist
The best indication that this is a scam is if the rental rate is much lower than similiar homes. As with all thigs in life, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Of course, we are professionals and know rental rates, but you as the consumer (especially moving from out of town!) may not.
-The ad may or may not contain photos, but 95% of the time we've seen them with atleast 1 photo.
-It usually does not have a phone number. If it does, it's not a US or Candian number.
-The email address is usually public, and shows a persons first and last name. A lot of the times, the scammers access public records and even use the owners real name in the ad!
This house rented for over $2,000 and they had it listed for $900! This is part of the act- this creates a sense of urgency and makes the consumer want to jump on this 'amazing' deal!
The Scammers Goals
They are trying to steal from you! They do not own the house, and they are exploiting the power of the internet.
In most cases, they want you to send your money for the deposit and/or first months rent to an overseas address (although we have heard of some US addresses.) in exchange for the keys.
In some cases, they send you a rental application and try to extract personal information from you including your social security number and/or credit card numbers.
They are very convincing, and even use the property owners' real names and create email addresses with that information! They have proper spelling but their grammar is usually poor. Like we said, most of the time they are overseas - Peace Corp, sick family member, missionary work and had to leave in short notice. They dont let you see the interior of the house (because they don't have access!). They tell you that they had a bad experience with their real estate company (the one with the sign in the yard) and not to call them.
Online Safety Tips
Here are some guidelines Craigslist wrote for online safety in regards to Online Scams! Also, read more on Craigslist Website about Types of Scams.
You can sidestep would-be scammers by following these common-sense rules:
- DEAL LOCALLY WITH FOLKS YOU CAN MEET IN PERSON - follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts on craigslist.
- NEVER WIRE FUNDS VIA WESTERN UNION, MONEYGRAM or any other wire service - anyone who asks you to do so is a scammer.
- FAKE CASHIER CHECKS & MONEY ORDERS ARE COMMON, and BANKS WILL CASH THEM AND THEN HOLD YOU RESPONSIBLE when the fake is discovered weeks later.
- CRAIGSLIST IS NOT INVOLVED IN ANY TRANSACTION, and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions, provide escrow services, or offer "buyer protection" or "seller certification"
- NEVER GIVE OUT FINANCIAL INFORMATION (bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.)
- AVOID DEALS INVOLVING SHIPPING OR ESCROW SERVICES and know that ONLY A SCAMMER WILL "GUARANTEE" YOUR TRANSACTION.
- DO NOT RENT HOUSING WITHOUT SEEING THE INTERIOR, OR PURCHASE EXPENSIVE ITEMS SIGHT-UNSEEN - in all likelihood that housing unit is not actually for rent and that cheap item does not exist.
- DO NOT SUBMIT TO CREDIT CHECKS OR BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR A JOB OR FOR HOUSING UNTIL YOU HAVE MET THE INTERVIEWER OR LANDLORD/AGENT IN PERSON.
If you encounter one of these scams, there are several ways to report the scammer in just a few minutes time!
Pplease help us all by reporting them to the FTC online by using this link.
Call the FTC toll free hotline @ 877-382-4357
watch this video from the FTC on how to file a complaint and the complaint process.
If you're ever browsing on craigslist and think you've found something questionable- call us (850) 473 3983 or email us Nicoles@PensacolaRealtyMasters.com as we have access to MLS and can verify data for you no problem!
And definitely check out our website if you're looking for a rental home, as we have 65 ready to go right now! Scam free of course... http://www.pensacolarealtymasters.com/
I'll continue to post new scams and examples as I see them- and if you guys come across some, post them here so others can see.
Let's all be safe out there!
Nicole St. Aubin, Broker Associate
Realty Masters of FL
(850) 473 3983 phone