Craigs List is a very useful and popular website to buy and sell most anything. In Real Estate; it is used by many to promote their homes for sale and for rent. The thing many love about it – It’s FREE.
Well things that are FREE tend to attract those who do not have your best interests at heart. In fact it has become a breeding ground for Scammers just waiting to take your money.
In the past 7 days; we have received no less than 5 phone calls from folks looking to rent. They are all calling about one home or another we have for sale. They all have similar stories:
“The owner is a Doctor and is overseas. He says to send him the security deposit and then to call you for the keys”. or “I spoke with the owner on the phone and he is going to rent it to me. I am sending him the money; when can you meet me to give me the keys?”.
NO ! These properties are all for SALE. In all 5 cases; people were led to belive there was a great place to rent; when in fact it was not.
How do you tell if it’s “FOR REAL” or “A SCAM” ?
I can tell in a second a scam vs. a real listing simply by price. Since I know the going rents in DC; when I see a property for rent for less than $2,000; I know that unless it is a basement or a studio apt; or in a challanging part of town; it is a scam. Last night I saw a picture of a house for rent for $900/month. I pulled the MLS listing. The house is for sale for $865,000. Doubt they are trying to rent it for that price!
If the owners are overseas; or even across the country; it is very likely a SCAM. Most people who live hundreds or thousands of miles away from their homes in DC; have hired a professional to tend to these matters.
LANGUAGE & SPELLING
Many of these Scammers do not have English (at least not American English) as a 1st lauguage. The grammer or use of words will sound funny. Many scammers from African nations use British spelling of some words. Maybe not a red flag if their last name is foreign sounding; but if they are trying to pose as a Doctor from DC with a name like Jones…..
Never; ever; ever send a penny to anyone. If they say they have a home for rent; ask when you can meet THEM or a REPRESENTATIVE to see the INSIDE of the home. If they can’t get in – they are probably a SCAMMER.
What SHOULD YOU DO?
Google the address. Often times you will find the address listed for sale. Call the Realtor. Ask them if it’s for sale or rent. 9 times out of 10; if there is a Realtor involved and you have been speaking with the “owner” directly; that person ISN’T the owner. He is trying to get your money.
Check the tax records to see who the owner really is. If the email from the “owner” is signed Dr. Andrew Jones and the tax records show the owner as Robert and Olivia Williams; probably a SCAM.
ASK A FRIEND
Many of the victims are people from out of town. They don’t realize that a 2 bedroom condo in Cleveland Park or Adams Morgan will NEVER be for rent for $800; or they are not here to meet with and see the property. Ask a friend to drive by or for their opinion.
If it sounds too good to be true… IT IS
Lastly; you can always contact a Realtor; like myself. I will be happy to do a quick search and tell you if it sounds like a scam or it’s not.