He found a listing on craigslist for a furnished house in the Seattle area. The deal was that the owner lived in Florida and would send the key when they received the deposit. Once receiving the deposit, the supposed owner said that they had forgotten to charge another fee, and would my friend please forward that to them. Then my friend would receive the key. No key was sent and my friend was out a chunk of money.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), scammers will hijack real estate listings changing the contact information so they, the scammers, receive any phone calls or emails and hook their prospective victims. Other scammers will make up listings will make up listings with homes or apartments that do not exist or are not for rent. The goal is to entice you with the promise of a great place to live for cheap. They take your money and do not deliver.
Often the scammers will say that they are in another country or another state. And, they will want money up front before you sign a lease or even have seen the rental. And they want you to “wire” the money to them.
Craigslist has the following recommendations for avoiding scams in general:
• DEAL LOCALLY WITH FOLKS YOU CAN MEET IN PERSON - follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts.
• NEVER WIRE FUNDS VIA WESTERN UNION, MONEYGRAM or any other wire service - anyone who asks you to do so is likely a scammer.
• FAKE CASHIER CHECKS & MONEY ORDERS ARE COMMON, and BANKS WILL CASH THEM AND THEN HOLD YOU RESPONSIBLE when the fake is discovered weeks later.
• CRAIGSLIST IS NOT INVOLVED IN ANY TRANSACTION, and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions, provide escrow services, or offer "buyer protection" or "seller certification"
• NEVER GIVE OUT FINANCIAL INFORMATION (bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.)
• AVOID DEALS INVOLVING SHIPPING OR ESCROW SERVICES and know that ONLY A SCAMMER WILL "GUARANTEE" YOUR TRANSACTION.
• DO NOT RENT HOUSING WITHOUT SEEING THE INTERIOR, OR PURCHASE EXPENSIVE ITEMS SIGHT-UNSEEN - in all likelihood that housing unit is not actually for rent and that cheap item does not exist.
• DO NOT SUBMIT TO CREDIT CHECKS OR BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR A JOB OR FOR HOUSING UNTIL YOU HAVE MET THE INTERVIEWER OR LANDLORD/AGENT IN PERSON.
Craigslist web site:
If you are a victim of a rental scam, report it to your local police agency/sheriff’s office and to the FTC. To report to the FTC go to: