House keys do not make a landlord

House keys do not make a landlord

By Greg Collier

A man from the Triangle area of North Carolina recently found himself out of $4000 after falling victim to a rental scam on Craigslist. He was looking for a property to rent for his family and found one for $900 a month. That is believed to be below current market value at the time of this posting. Thinking that he had found a great bargain, the man texted the supposed owner of the home and was asked about his work history, his previous rental history and whether or not he had any pets. Sounds legit so far, right?

The man was then asked to send a copy of his driver’s license and a selfie. The man was then told by the ‘landlord’ that the landlord will send him the combination to the lockbox so the man could get the key and tour the home. The man ended up paying a $1800 deposit when the scammer offered an even better deal. The scammer told the man that if he paid two months rent up front, the third month would be free. The man sent the scammer another $2000.

As you can probably surmise, when the man went to move his family in, another family had already settled into the home. So, you might be wondering how the scammer was able to get the combination to the home’s lockbox. All the scammer needs to do is call the legitimate realtor and tell them that they want to tour the home. Once he gets the combination from the realtor, he gives it to the victim.

All of the communications between the victim and the scammer were done through text and email. If a property owner, landlord, etc. doesn’t meet you in person, the odds are pretty good that you’re being scammed. Before putting any money down on a rental home, check with the county to make sure who actually owns the property and who is renting it, as many craigslist rental ads are just copied from legitimate real estate listings.