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Craigslist scammers target renters in Erie

by Leighton, Kelly on

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.”

Topics

Listings Craigslist Scams Renters Rent
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Pamela Tracy

This isn’t just happening in Erie and it’s just not on Craigslist. It is rampant in the Pittsburgh area and you find it on websites like homes.com and most recently Trulia.com.

Deborah Fox

We’ve had it here in Selinsgrove, too – and the woman insisted it came from Trulia

Pamela Tracy

I believe it did come from Trulia as recently more of the scams of my rental properties have been on Trulia than any other site.

Anonymous

This is happening on Trulia. My listing was just posted on Saturday, someone put it on Trulia for rent. People actually showing up at my client’s house to rent it. It’s not a rental, but for sale.

The scammer is asking for the person’s driver’s license. I tried to contact Trulia to shut them down, can’t get in touch with anyone. This is very concerning as 5 people showed up at my client’s door. Shocking to them!