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Is A Craigslist Scam Being Run On Your Home or Apartment For Sale?

In a previous post we discussed Craigslist Rental Scams Being Run From Nigeria? and it brought out some amazing comments on how families were being ripped off.

I decided to do a quick post explaining some of the common threads that occurred to these people as warning signs that a scam might be going on.

Warning signs of a Craigslist Rental Scam:

  • The price is below market rate. This is the lure that separates the clear thinkers and those that tend to be nervous or desperate.
  • The owner is overseas, typically a missionary. The missionary angle is to gain credibility. Overseas, typically Africa and most Nigeria, is to get you to send money to these countries without thinking about it.
  • They want you to wire money via Western Union. Enough said on this one.
  • When you go by the home there is someone living there. These folks are audacious enough to try to rent homes that are occupied. They are preying on the fact you are too lazy to do your homework.

So what to do.

How To Check If A Craigslist Rental Is A Scam:

  • Do a Google search for the property. Odds are the property is already for sale. If there is a listing, typically you will see this on Trulia or Zillow, call the agent. They will be able to give you an answer.
  • The price is below market. Very rarely will someone discount rent to the general public. If they are a missionary they will go through a local charity before just going onto Facebook.
  • Knock on the door of the unit for rent. Let them know that you have seen this ad on Craigslist and ask if the advertisement is legit.
  • If no one is about, ask a neighbor or the super. They will know.
  • If it is a scam, let Craigslist know. They will remove the listing.

Here are a couple of Craigslist Search Tools that can help you to see if you house is getting scammed.


  1. I have been noticing this trend in our area, of all places. Vacation rentals and apartments are way below price level seem to be the way they are making progress. This is real, thanks for the heads up.

  2. This is a great blog! A wonderful tool on how to teach people the warning signs of a scam. Thanks Tom Royce!

  3. If the price is extremely low, you must think twice

  4. That’s a nice post to define the main steps to check. Thanks

  5. Sir, Ms, A man named "Thomas Nelson is advertising an apartment at Waverly avenue. He states the rent is low and only requires a $300 deposit,. He states that he is an oil expatriate and is their infrequbtly. It turns out he is asking for you to wire $800.00 by Western Union.

    He is also using the same ad, under the alias, " Miker Elliot" and he says the apartment is magnificent, fully furnished , and he shows pictures. The money he asks for is to be wired to one , " Tammie in washington State Please do something abouth him. Due to my stupidity, he got $300 from me. Gabe Sigerson

  6. I FIND OUT THIS GUY IS ADVERTISING MY PROPERTY WHICH I OWN FROM SOMEONE WHO CALLED INQUIRING ABOUT IT. I created this fake email account and did the following to get more about this scam this person is pulling. Please read from bottom up. Please beaware of these Scams!!

    Thanks for getting back to me and i really appreciate your willing and your effort in our house thanks,i can understand you and i wont you to understand me too.i told you that once you made the payment the keys and document will be send to your address and i told you to give me your address and your contact so that i could talk to you on phone,please get back to me with your address and your contact.and for where to send the payment.okay,
    Thanks for your respond and here is the payment information and as soon as i confirm the payment i will be going to the FedEx company immediately so i will give you call today so that i can no when i will be going to the FedEx company for the registration.

    ZIP CODE: 23401

    Get back to me with the 10 digits MTCN (money transfer control number) that will be given to you at Western Union after you have made the payment in order for me to be able to pick up the money sent, so that i can immediately arrange for the delivery of keys and documents to you through FedEx next day delivery…

    — On Wed, 6/2/10, Jill Johnson wrote:

    From: Jill Johnson
    Subject: Re: Craigslist ad
    To: “Barry Wolf”
    Date: Wednesday, June 2, 2010, 2:55 PM

    Sounds good. Now where do I send the $1000 to and should I make the check out to Barry Wolf?
    I’d like to see the property before sending the money. Can you provide me with the gate code and the keys? Or can someone meet me there to open up the unit?

    From: Barry Wolf
    To: Jill Johnson
    Sent: Wed, June 2, 2010 5:18:34 AM
    Subject: Re: Craigslist ad

    Thanks very much for your reply and also i can see your willingness in this rent and how is work?Hope great!!! So as i shall be giving you my house,please again take care of the house so that i might be glad when coming to see you.
    However if you are ready to rent the house now,then that will not be a problem but we will advice you due to a responsible person like you, to be able to afford the 1st month fee now($1000)and also we would like to send the following document to you via the DHL and the tracking number will be sent to you so that you can possible occupy our house,Please once again,I am giving you this on trust and do not disappoint me and i promise you that,you will love the house.So i am with the below document here with me and i will like to know if you are ready for the payment of this first month,please take good care of our house for us, and i will like you to give me your contact number and your address today

    Here are the contents of the document.

    1) Entrance and the rooms Keys
    2)Paper/Permanent house form(Containing your reference details)
    3)The house documentary file..
    4)Payment Receipt………….
    5)Full address and description of the house.

    you can go and view the house and get back to me today so that i can give you the Information the payment will be send to. I await your reply ASAP.

    Regard and God bless you!!!

    — On Tue, 6/1/10, Jill Johnson wrote:

    From: Jill Johnson
    Subject: Re: Craigslist ad
    To: “Barry Wolf”
    Date: Tuesday, June 1, 2010, 6:32 PM

    My name is Jill Johnson, I am 19yrs old currently relocating and needing to rent within the next month or so. It will only be me living in the property. I do not own any pets and I have one car.

    If possible I would like more information as to how I can rent this property. Do you know the gate code for me to drive through the neighborhood?
    Do I sent the deposit to the property address?

    From: Barry Wolf
    To: Jill Johnson
    Sent: Tue, June 1, 2010 2:10:55 PM
    Subject: Re: Craigslist ad

    I did get your response concerning the AD I posted on craigslist. The house is still available but presently I’m not around.. I did bid for a portion of petroleum land sometimes ago in West Africa and fortunately I won the bidding so I have to move quickly down to Africa to have my company set up because I will still have to rebid for it in the next 7 years. I came over here with my wife, we both old the house when we got married. As soon as we settle down here I had a thought of selling the house so I have to look for an agent, after getting one, we got a deal but later my wife advised against that. She said we may not be able to win the bidding next time, in other to keep our head when we return that we have to keep the house. I reasoned with her and accepted her advise. So I contacted the agent back and requested for my keys and documents. Later we decided to have the house rent out, we would have give the same agent this job also but the truth of the matter is that the agent would want to handle it professionally and the occupant may not be able to reason along with him later. If you notice, you will discovered that the price we are offering is far below standard price, this is enough for you to know that we are not after the rental fee but the absolute care for the property. I know there is no way I can be sure that you are the right person to live in the house because we won’t be able to see physical before sending you the keys and the documents to occupy the space. But I just had a feeling that anyone who knows what it takes to put the kind of structure down should know that maintaining a building is mandatory, so if you belief you can take good care of the house and handle it like yours then I will be more than happy to let you rent the house.
    Please if you are ready now to occupy the house kindly provide the information below for record purpose


    Full Name________?
    Date of Birth___?
    Other Phone _____?
    Current Address_____?
    How many people will be living in the house___?
    Do you have a pet____?
    Do you have a car_____?
    Move In Date______?

    here is the address of the house;…7167 Showcase Lane, Orlando, FL 32819

    — On Tue, 6/1/10, Jill Johnson wrote:

    From: Jill Johnson
    Subject: Craigslist ad
    To: [email protected]
    Date: Tuesday, June 1, 2010, 5:23 PM

    I am inquiring about a property you have listing on craigslist that is 3 bedrooms 2 baths.
    I am looking for a property to rent very soon, can you provide me with more information.

  7. My wife and i responded to an ad on craigslist here in the seattle area. The supposed owner of the rental sent us back an e-mail saying the rent was 700.00 a month way below market rental for the size of house. With all utilities included, month to month rent ,or short term lease,or any term lease.all pets are fine. He stated he is on missionary work in nigeria and just wanted his house taken care of and he didn't care about the money. When it sounds to good to be true it usually is. Beware of 234 692-5504 DR Eagle Jason

  8. I am a homeowner who recently found out that my house (which is currently for sale) was listed on craig's list as one of these rental scams… We did email craigslist to have them remove the posting. However, is there anything else that we need to do to protect ourselves? Please help!

  9. my house has been put on craigslist as a rental at way below market several times by a scammer. it must be very profitable. i can't tell you how many people have shown up at my door or even called me about my house. the authorities have been notified as has craigs list … several times. but he keeps coming back. i feel sorry for those people who have actually sent their information to him as well as their money. what a racket.

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