Craigslist scam leaves hopeful renters without a home


(Sandeep Verma) #1

MADISON, Wis. - A group of potential roommates are out $1,600 after the home they thought they were set to move into turns out to be a scam.

The group of men in their early 20’s are not only out money, but also need a place to live.

"They jumped into it very eagerly and he thought he found a great deal. you know everything was working out just perfectly,"said Tom Ray, whose son was scammed by a Craigslist ad.

When it sounds too good to be true, it usually is – a lesson Tom Ray said his 22-year-old son and two roommates learned the hard way, losing $1,600. The group of three planned to move into a house on Madison’s Westside later this month.

They found the listing on Craigslist and were asked to only communicate through text. Ray said his son wired a deposit, but it wasn’t until the landlord refused to give them the keys that they realized something was wrong.

“She said, 'I didn’t send them because you didn’t send me the first and last month’s rent, and he said, ‘Yes I did, I have the receipts from Walmart.’ She said can I send it again and we will add that to your rent when I get it and he found all of that odd,” Ray said.

Ray drove to the home to find it was not only not for rent but on the market to be sold.

“This is a classic scam on the internet. They find a place that is for sale use the information in the posting and the photos and post it on Craigslist for rent,” Ray said.

This is not a new scam according to the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Frank Frassetto, division administrator for DATCP, said it’s up to the consumer to do extra research since it’s so easy for a scammer to infiltrate online traffic and scam someone out of money.

Frassetto suggest those looking for a house to rent, hire a realtor, verify the property and address, research the landlord and never wire money.

“Seventy-seven percent of the time in scams it’s usually a wire transfer. It’s a sold way of getting money from unexpected people,” Frassetto said.

Neighbors say Ray’s son is one of a handful of people who have fallen for the scam in the last few weeks

“There is nobody around to be angry at. It was just some unseen person that I will never see again because nobody has any solution on how to fix it,” Ray said.