Craigslist rental scam hits Twin PortsThe Superior Police Department and Duluth Police Department have received numerous complaints recently regarding fraudulent real estate postings on Craigslist, according to Sgt. Nick Alexander, commander of the Lake Superior Forensic Technology and Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
By: Superior Telegram, Superior Telegram
The Superior Police Department and Duluth Police Department have received numerous complaints recently regarding fraudulent real estate postings on Craigslist, according to Sgt. Nick Alexander, commander of the Lake Superior Forensic Technology and Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The local scam seems to involve the poster claiming to be in Africa, or some other urgent scenario, and therefore they need to rent/lease the property. The poster requires detailed personal information and a security deposit in advance of closing any deal. The actual property being listed is either a current real estate listing or is not on the market at all.
Bruce Lurye, broker of Edwards Realty in Superior, said one of his listings was fraudulently posted on Craigslist. He found out about it when three different people called him to ask about renting the house. The Craigslist ad asked prospective renters to drive by. When they did, they saw the Edwards Realty sign out front and gave Lurye a call.
But the house isn’t for rent. It’s for sale.
The Craigslist ad asked interested renters to drive by the house and, if they liked it, send first and last month’s rent to the poster in Africa. Then, the poster would send them the keys.
Lurye said that you should never send money in advance.
“Not until you can get in and see it,” he said, and talk to the realtor or owner.
While some realtors do advertise on Craigslist, Lurye isn’t one of them. If a realtor is posting an ad on the site, he said, it needs to include the name of the realty company. But if it’s an individual doing the renting/selling, they don’t have to.
Fraudulent postings such as these can be flagged directly on Craigslist and can also be reported to local law enforcement and to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
As a general rule of thumb, your suspicions should be alerted whenever you are requested to provide any money in advance for these types of transactions and when no face to face meeting can be arranged. For more information, or to report a fraudulent posting, go to the Internet Crime Complaint Center website, ic3.gov.
Lurye said he know of another scam making the rounds in the area – the grandchild scam. An imposter calls, claiming to be a grandchild or other relative. They say they are overseas and in trouble with the law, and they need the person to wire them money to get out of jail. A call like this should be verified, Lurye said, before wiring money.