Looking for a New Place to Live? Beware of the Craigslist Scammer

    By Glennette Maxwell

    True story, real life, this happened right here in Gainesville, FL.

    Tenant: Hello, I am wondering why I still see the house I moved into listed online for rent?

    Property Manager: Which house is that?

    Tenant: 1234 Unknown Ave.

    Property Manager: Because this unit is available and still on the market.
    Did you say you moved into it?

    Tenant: Yes, I paid my money and signed a lease.

    Property Manager: Can you please come to our office to discuss this further?

    The tenant appears in our office with her receipt (she paid cash) and lease agreement. She begins to explain that she met someone at the unit to view the property and made the deal.

    This posing landlord drilled out the locks, changed them, removed our sign and rented our property!

    The local authorities were contacted however basically had no case and really couldn’t help ether party involved.

    -The tenant paid cash, had a lease with names that were fake, and the phone number was now disconnected.
    -The Property Manager now had a tenant paying an under valued rent price for this property who had not gone through our screening process and from conversation under usual circumstances would not qualify.

    What would you do if this happened to you?

    To everyone reading this, BE AWARE. Every day we check Craigslist and find our properties listed for at least 30% price difference. If it is too good to be true, then it probably is!

    Renters: what can do to avoid being a victim of these scams?

    1. Avoid finding rentals on Craigslist. But if you must…
    2. Drive by the property before making contact with the ad.
    3. NEVER use cash or wire transfers when finalizing contracts and/or lease agreements.
    4. Get a business card from whomever you are dealing with.
    5. Talk to the neighbors.

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