Recently, people in Erie searching on Craigslist for the perfect housing have been getting scammed, with some victims losing hundreds, even thousands, of dollars.
“The scammers are taking photos of homes from Realtor.com®, Howard Hanna or really any other broker’s website and then placing them as for rent on Craigslist,” explained Pat Doran, a Realtor® with Howard Hanna in Erie.
“They claim to be out-of-town landlords and tell potential renters to drive by the property and peek in the windows to check it out. It’s always vacant properties to make it work,” he explained.
The scanners will then tell the renter they will mail a key once they receive a deposit. The scammers will only accept wired money, said Doran. Several people have wired money, only to never hear from the so-called landlord again.
The last few times, the scammers have picked up the money from a Wal Mart in Philadelphia, said Doran. They are hopeful video footage from the stores can help identify the scammers, and possibly get people their money back.
Doran said renters should be suspicious of so-called landlords that only use email to communicate, and won’t meet in person or show you the property. Also, deals that seem to be too good to be true usually are.
An added safety measure would be for renters to call their broker and ask for their assistance before making any kind of financial commitment.
Doran said Realtors® should be wary of people calling asking suspicious questions about a property, such as whether it’s vacant. “That could be a sign that they are looking for houses to put up for a scam.”