Monday, August 30, 2010

Rental scams on Craigslist. Be aware.

Craigslist is a great resource to find deals and acquire items from locals, but be wary, it’s not the safest or most unfailing place to do business. Here’s a reason why; last week the Seattle Times reported a man was scamming locals out of rent money. His name was Paul Bakovich, a Sammamish dweller, who was posing as an eastside apartment owner to collect deposit money from innocent renters. Bakovich’s scam left him with nearly $5,500 dollars. Thankfully, he was eventually caught by local authorities. Craigslist users should be aware of this kind of thing because it isn’t the only rental scam on craigslist. There are countless reports of similar stories all over the country. One scam ran almost an entire year before victims realized they had been ripped off. An ad was posted on craigslist for a “Summer rental in the Hamptons” which was posted in the fall. Interested parties would tour the summer house, pay a deposit, sign a lease and then go on their way assuming that come summer, they would have a rental in the Hamptons. This went on during Fall, Winter and Spring and affected numerous people until Summer when all of the victims showed up at the same house. Surprised, the victims discovered that the man who posted the ad was working under a false name and of course, was nowhere to be found! This was a very clever scam and, unfortunately, it can happen anywhere and everywhere. If you choose to use craigslist to find a rental, pay close attention-you don’t want to fall victim to a scammer. Below are some some tips to help you avoid rental scams on Craigslist.

• Stay away from off season renters.
• Check tax records to make sure the person renting you the home is the actual owner of record.
• If the price seems to good to be true, it probably is.
• Check with a local real estate broker, they will help find you a rental at no cost.
• If it ask you to wire funds, it’s a scam.
• Never send money via mail.
• Be wary of sub-letting; make sure the person has the authority to do so.
• If the person wrote a heart wrenching story about how their mother is dying in Saudi Arabia and is out of the country, it’s a scam!
• Any listings that mentions Nigeria.
• Use common sense.
New ways to scam people are developed every day. Go with your instincts and if you unsure refer to craigslist’s “Avoiding Scams & Fraud” forum.


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