It’s not a new issue, but it certainly is a bad one: real estate scammers on Craigslist.
COVID-19 has not only reawakened “porch pirates” (who typically steal packages during the holidays), but inspired fraudsters to try and exploit mortgage forbearance futures.
Recently, Scottsdale REALTORS® member Jolene Miller discovered that one of her vacant, for-sale listings had been illegally posted on Craigslist as a rental property.
Miller was tipped off by another agent whose out-of-state clients asked about the online ad, but it was too late.
Someone posing as a property manager had broken into the Norterra-near home, showed it to multiple, prospective renters and collected their deposit fees before disappearing.
She notified police, had the locks “reset” by a locksmith, put a lock on the backyard gate and posted signs saying the property was not for rent.
Could your property be next?
Craigslist does not verify whether the person listing a rental property is authorized to do so.
If your listing is scammed, be prepared to do three things straight away:
- Notify local police and secure the property,
- Report the scam to Craigslist and ask that the listing be removed,
- File an online complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
One of the best ways to catch a Craigslist con artist is to monitor your own listings by creating a Google Alert. It’s relatively easy.
- Go to Google Alerts
- In the box at the top, enter the address you want to follow
- Click Show options to change settings like:
- How often you get notifications
- The part of the world you want info from
- What accounts get the alert
- Click Create Alert to receive emails with matching search results.
And just to be safe, please review 10 Tips for Holding a Safe Open House because that fraudster who broke into a vacant house, could be squatting in one of your properties.
Let’s be careful out there.