For Rent – For Real? Craigslist Rental Scams

Lisa Loper of the Scott Loper Team warns of a Craigslist scam that is a problem nationwide

There are scammers out there who take listing information of legitimate homes for sale and try to dupe potential renters into sending them money in exchange for a rental agreement.  This is becoming a pervasive trend throughout the country and people are falling for it. Vacation rentals are also targeted.

The scammers offer ridiculously low rents to attract renters – many of whom have problems trying to find rentals due to poor credit.  The scammers scour the internet for listings to use and copy the photos, listing information, and address.  They will even look up the seller’s name and use it in their correspondence with potential renters.

The email response to your rental inquiry may read something like this:

I can see you are interested in renting the house I have listed, I am currently in West Africa where I work as a volunteer with the GOODNESS AND MERCY MISSION.  So I need a tenant to take care of it since I am out of the states now.  I have already received some proposals regarding the rent because it is located in a very good area.

I could not get a hold of any Realtor to handle this rent issue, although it was when I knew how long we are going to stay in Africa that I decided to rent out the house.... However, the initial plan was to sell the house. Which I tried, but sometimes agents inflate the price and it takes longer to sell.  I am telling you this in case you find the house on another website for sale. 

I left behind some electronics which are included in the rent such as a plasma TV, a DVD player, computer, air conditioning, and alarm system. The kitchen is fully equipped with all necessary cooking utensils, a refrigerator, freezer, oven, microwave, dishwasher, washer and dryer.

The keys to the house are here with me and the rental documents which I can send to you after your application has been accepted.  Also I would like you to know that the rent charges are not really the issue, but your absolute maintenance of my house is the most important thing so please get back to me with the application form below. 

1) Your Full Name____
2) Your Full Address & Phone #____
3) How old are you____
4) Are you married____
5) How many people will be living in the house____
6) Do you have children____  Ages?
7) Do you have a car____
8) Do you have a pet____
9) Occupation____
10) Monthly income____
11) When will you like to move____
12) How long will you like to rent the property____
13) Reason for relocating____
14) How many months rent can you pay upfront?  Minimum (1 month + security deposit) or (2 months + security deposit).  Which option do you prefer?___

So if you are still interested, note that the rent is going to be $700 and the security deposit is going to be $600. I look forward to hearing from you with all these details so that I can have it in my file in case of renting to you and being able to contact you. I await your urgent reply so that we can discuss how to get the rental documents and the keys of the house to you.


Pastor Lying Thief

Stay Blessed


What are the red flags that the rental ad is not legitimate?

  • The owner is out of the country working as a missionary.
  • The owner is unavailable to show the home and says to drive by and judge by the photos online.
  • The owner wants you to send or transfer money overseas.
  • The owner uses odd email addresses and overseas phone numbers.
  • The deal is “too good to be true” (i.e. ridiculously low rent, no credit screening, utilities included, electronics/furnishings included).

Don’t fall prey to the lure of someone posing as the owner of a rental property.  If you see a suspicious ad on Craigslist, report it immediately.  And if you want to be sure that you won’t get duped, don’t go it alone, work with a Realtor to find a rental.  A real estate agent can ensure that a rental is legitimate.

The Scott Loper Team includes Scott & Lisa Loper, Keller Williams Real Estate, 601 Bethlehem Pike, Bldg B, Ste 100, Montgomeryville, PA 18936, (215) 631-1900, www.ScottLoperTeam.com.

Shirley A. Young September 26, 2012 at 04:20 PM
We were duped by that exact message. It was when he said if we mailed him a ridiculously low first month's rent amount and he said he would then mail the keys to us that we got suspicious. We checked out the house and spoke to the owner's neighbors who told us the owners were away for the summer but would be returning. The scam artist kept calling us several times a day because he was anxious to get the money so we led him on for a few days and then finally told him we were on to him and we were going to call the police. The calls stopped coming immediately.
Tony Ercole September 26, 2012 at 05:52 PM
How can there still be people that naive to fall for these scams today? Hard to believe. If it were I, I certainly wouldn't admit to it. Where do they live? In a rabbit hole somewhere? It kind ot reminds me of those who are about to vote and know (nothing) about the candidates. In addition to I.D., you should have to qualify by taking a test prior to voting!
Dale Pahnke September 27, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Tony...nice. who made you da' judge?
Suzanne Gerard September 27, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Hey Dale! How've you been?
Renae October 03, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Did you send them any money? If so did you get your money back? I was duped into this scam and sent them money.
JRA January 26, 2013 at 10:20 PM
I found a website that can help avoid craigslist rental scams www.rentsafereport.com for $14.95 the report will tell you who owns the house, if the owner is current on their mortgage payments. The report also indicates how much is owed on the house and how much the house is worth (this can give you an idea as to how likely the house is to being short sold or foreclosed on in the future. This is by far the best way to avoid being scammed.
Traci Sinclair March 04, 2013 at 09:09 PM
I was almost scammed by a guy who said his name was TONY CHIMEL with an Alabama telephone number, BEWARE!
Kevin Rose March 05, 2013 at 02:45 AM
You don't need to work with a real estate agent for a rental. If the real estate agent is representing the owner of the property there is a good chance you will be paying more rent. The real estate agent either works for the owner or will be charging you a fee. How else do they make money? I have been in the rental business for 15 years and as long as the owner meets you at the home, and lives local you will have little chance of being scammed. Out of state landlords are a red flag but not always bad. Go to the county website and pull up the property address for any tax liens and the name of the owner of the property. Save money, do it yourself!
Someone March 19, 2013 at 02:52 AM
New scam on the horizon are people trying to get you to pay for a service online that is supposedly "required" -- whether a background check or credit check, at exorbitant rates -- to "qualify" for whatever "job" or "rental home" you answered an ad to inquire about. DO NOT FALL FOR THIS BULLSHIT. They are either owners of these bogus sites or affiliates on a program trying to scam money out of others ... you could have a perfect clean record for example and they will still try to make you buy this "service" to prove it then invent some excuse to not rent to you AFTER they have your $40 or whatever. People do the same thing asking people to apply for an apartment, charging them $25 for a credit check and then never getting back to them afterwards (leaving the person to assume they were passed up in favor of a better potential tenant or something, there's no way to track or prove that sort of thing you know) ... all scams and bullshit. Goddammit why can't people just make money the OLD FASHIONED WAY and actually earn it instead of gutting their fellow hardworking citizens who are JUST AS FLIPPING POOR AS THEY ARE APPARENTLY???
andthatsthetruth March 19, 2013 at 11:15 AM
Very interesting that this has developed into another angle for potential scammers on CL. CL has had scammers, the email goes almost the same way to purchase an item that you have up for sale there. They aren't in the country or are out of town, their secretary will process the monies & will have a moving company come pick the item up. Just send them your address and the bank info so that they will transfer the $ directly in your account. Years ago there was an apartment find place in Willow Grove that always utilized the papers. They had a bldg & people we went there filled out the paperwork and paid the $25 finder fee, and nothing ever materialized. They eventually were found out & put out of business.
james May 22, 2013 at 12:25 PM
send money via money gram and western union only
Lloyd Christmas May 22, 2013 at 12:53 PM
next the patch is going to report that the $10 million in South Africa I am scheduled to inherit is bogus as well.....
David Lee Cassaro August 19, 2013 at 07:38 PM
Great content, I really enjoyed it. http://www.empowernetwork.com/dl503inc/blog/craigslist-scams-and-what-you-can-do-to-avoid-being-a-victim Check out this blog on Craigslist Scams, Good stuff here.


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