The Outer Banks Association of REALTORS® is warning residents of the Outer Banks to be on the lookout for a scam involving long and short-term rentals on Craigslist.
Scammers have begun posting ads on Craigslist looking for potential renters and offering extremely low monthly prices. Some of these ads will list legitimate rental companies on the Outer Banks.
According to Fox News, rental home listing scams started to become widespread as of May 2016. It was also listed as one of the top 10 worst scams of 2017 by MIC.com.
When the renter responds to the ad the “landlord” will send an email with a convoluted story about how they cannot meet the interested party but invites them to look around the property. The “landlord” will also mention that there is a lot of interest and will suggest that the person wire several months of rent payments in advance to secure the rental before someone else can.
According to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) Director of the Outer Banks Association of REALTORS® Dan Sutherland, “We have received at least five reports of this type of scam this year alone and know there are many more that have not been reported because the victims do not know to contact us.”
It is easy to fall victim to this type of scam. Says Sutherland, “What happens is that the scammer will download pictures of a house that has just sold and will post it in a Craigslist ad as a long or short-term rental. The ad is eye-catching because the monthly price is very low, and the pictures are higher quality. Potential renters are lulled into a false sense of security especially if a local rental company and agent are listed.”
“Basically, if it looks too good to be true it is. Pay attention if warning bells go off and never wire funds without meeting the landlord first. It is always a good idea to search the Dare County tax records to see if the home was recently sold and if the current owner’s name matches the landlord’s,” he adds.
If you find yourself the victim of this scam the Outer Banks Association of REALTORS® asks that you contact their office immediately so they may assist you in reporting the crime.