I received an email last week from a guy inquiring about an ad he saw on Craigslist:
Are any of these units for rent? There is currently an ad on Craigslist for one of these units, http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/apa/601697121.html
Is this a real ad? I’ve replied to a few ads recently that end up being fake, and I thought I’d check with someone that seemed legit before I bothered this time. It would also be good for you guys to know if someone is out there misrepresenting your property.
I clicked on the ad link and what I saw, instead of a rental house, was one of my “For Sale” listings being advertised as a rental house. It had my verbiage, my photos, but someone else’s contact information.
So I wrote a little warning on the Seattle PI site and before I knew it, dozens of people started writing in and calling complaining they too had been victimized by the same scammer!
King 5-TV did a short interview about the scam and then the phone started ringing off the hook. Apparently, after the potential tenant contacts the Craigslist advertiser, the criminal dance begins, with plenty of emails going back-and-forth until the potential tenant give in and mails the guy a check, supposedly to get the keys.
There’s no telling how many potential tenants have been victimized, but I imagine that at least one person must have sent the guy money for him to keep it up. And it’s not just my properties he’s “stealing”, as I got a call from Kim Knowles at Windermere that her Blaine Street listing is also being advertised “for rent’. Which, she tells me to tell everyone, it is NOT!
The things that make the internet so cool and accessible also make it susceptible to criminal abuse and scams.
If those scammers spent as much time working at a regular job or legitimate business as they spend thinking up and executing these petty crimes, they’d probably be rich.