7801 Deercreek Club Rd., Jacksonville, FL 32256
REALTORS® BEWARE!! Scammers are out there aiming to dupe unsuspecting renters who are searching for rental properties on Craig’s List and finding properties for sale listed on realMLS.
On April 12, a NEFAR REALTOR® received a phone call from a person asking if one of her listings was for rent. It wasn’t, but the prospective renter had seen the listing on Craig’s List and was making the inquiry. After setting the caller straight, the REALTOR® found her listing on Craig’s List and took it down. “The scammer had taken the language of my listing and my photos and posted it on Craig’s List,” the NEFAR member explained.
The next day, the same REALTOR® received a call from a woman in New York, looking to rent the same property. She was interested in moving to a beach community and was on the verge of sending $2,100 to the scammer, who claimed to be from Texas and had posted the property on Craig’s List. Thankfully the renter got a bad feeling about it and did some additional research contacting the NEFAR REALTOR® before signing what since was determined to be a fake lease and sending the deposit in.
“The prospective renter had a driver’s license from the guy and his contact information,” said the NEFAR REALTOR®, adding that the scammer had used the seller’s last name on his fake license so he would look like the owner if a property search was done online.
“The renter had been communicating by text with him. She had sent in her application with her information on it and was about to sign the lease,” the REALTOR® said. “The scammer had told her that he didn’t trust REALTORS® and that one had messed him up. That was why he was renting his place on his own.”
Upon setting the second prospective renter straight, the NEFAR REALTOR® reported the incident to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Department and to the FBI.
But the scam was not finished.
The next day, April 14, the NEFAR REALTOR® got a call from her seller saying the property management firm for her listing had contacted her saying two prospective renters had arrived at the firm with a check in hand requesting the gate code and a key so they could view the property. They were disappointed to learn that the property was for sale and already had a contract on it.
“I want to warn people because if this guy was not successful with my listing he might go after other listings and create a nightmare for other REALTORS®,” said the NEFAR member. “I have heard of this scam where unsuspecting renters send in their deposit money and end up losing it because the rental doesn’t exist, and the scammer ends up changing his contact information. I am trying to put a stop to it. I want to alert other REALTORS® that this kind of scam is raising its ugly head again.”
To avoid being hurt by a scam like this, REALTORS® who list property should check that it is not listed as a rental on Craig’s List. “Criag’s List does not monitor what is out there,” the NEFAR REALTOR® said. “Their site specifically states it has no control over what is posted there.”
Meanwhile, members of the public seeking to rent property on sites like Craig’s List should place the address into Google and contact the listing agent to determine if the property is, in fact, for rent.
“This scam looks very real to the renter. It’s very sad that we as REALTORS® have to worry about this kind of thing,” said the NEFAR member.
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