Most of our online traffic and online leads come from Craigslist. We value its reliable service and list job postings as well as all of our listing to our account. Not only is it extremely user-friendly, but it also costs nothing!
However, from time to time we will inexplicably receive an email or call from an ecstatic tenant who found our 2,500 sq ft single-family home with 4 bedrooms and 2.5 baths for $800/month on Craigslist. Typically these tenants believe the deal is too good to be true – and of course they’re right – at which point we have to give them the actual monthly rent cost only disappointing them. Then when I (Stephanie, the marketing assistant) search for the scam listing on Craigslist, lo and behold, it’s not there! I will then report the scam to Craigslist and nothing really ever changes. The process repeats about every other month.
Here is a list of the good and bad that can come from these Craigslist rental scams.
- We get a lead from an interested tenant: even if we have to let them down about the price and explain the scam, at least we have made contact with a potential tenant. Even better though, since the tenant is feeling very low about finding a decent rental at a decent price, we have an opportunity to lift their spirits and find them a home.
- Learning opportunity: these scams make for fantastic learning opportunities for our agents and clients alike. Plus it gives us a chance to tell our story on our blog!
- Gives our listings more exposure: we advertise on several 3rd party listing websites, our Facebook page, and Craigslist. However, Craigslist only lets you list a listing once at a time. With the help of our scammers our listings are working overtime!
- Time consuming: I spend a lot of time researching these scams/scammers usually to no avail. Then I have to report it to Craigslist which is about a 10 minute process to explain the situation. It is a waster of time that I could be spending advertising our legitimate listings.
- Some press is bad press: when someone contacts us about a listing that is falsely represented, it makes us look as though we don’t have a handle on things. It also lets our potential tenants down when they learn the real monthly rent price.
- Only deal locally with people you can meet in person! This means don’t wire money to the person who sends you an email from Nigeria…
- There is no such thing as “Craigslist Certified” or “Craigslist Buyer Protection.” Think of Craigslist as a bulletin board and the posts as flyers stapled to it. If you deal with a seller on the bulletin board and they steal your wallet, would you hold the bulletin board accountable for your loss?
- Do not rent a house without first visiting. If the poster says he can’t do a walk-through with you then chances are he doesn’t have access to the house because it’s not his house!
- Do not submit to credit or background checks until you have met the poster in person.
And last but not least here are some informative and funny resources about Craigslist scams:
- Joe informs his subscribers about potential scams by posting the Craigslist ads and the aliases of the scammers. It’s very informative and pretty funny to see what people think they can get away with.
- Some might find these tips to be obvious, but alas here they are if you need a refresher.
- This is a fantastic blog post about specific home rental scams found of Craigslist.
- A few more legitimate tips for using Craigslist safely