Thursday, June 14, 2012

Rent Scams Promoted On Craigslist Creating Headaches For Home Sellers, Real Estate Agents

In Northwest Indiana, the The Times of Northwest Indiana reports:

  • A nationwide Craigslist rental scam has targeted some Northwest Indiana homeowners. A Lowell homeowner, whose house is listed for sale, reported to police June 1 that a neighbor saw the property fraudulently advertised for rent on Craigslist. The fraud perpetrator is enticing potential renters to send or wire deposit money.

  • The property owner’s real estate co-agent, Trinity McCormick, of Re/Max Integrity Group, said an unauthorized person copied the photos and information from the Greater Northwest Indiana Realtors Association multiple listing service website and then advertised it as a rental.

  • McCormick said this is not the first time she has encountered rental fraud. She said a three-bedroom Cedar Lake home, listed as renting for $1,175 per month was copied and advertised for $700 per month. McCormick said Craigslist immediately removed the false ads when notified.

  • GNIAR has been sending notices to its members warning of the scam. One Valparaiso home, priced for sale at $1.1 million, was fraudulently listed on Craigslist for rent at $800 per month including utilities. The seller was surprised by a “potential renter” who showed up at the home unannounced.

  • During the past two weeks, a client of Realtor Mitch Harris, of Coldwell Banker in Valparaiso, has "potential renters" showing up at her Portage Township home even talking to her children.

  • Harris has been inundated with calls from people seeing the fake ad listing the rent at $800 less per month than the actual amount. They call after driving by and seeing his name on the sign. Harris said the perpetrators claim to be the homeowners who are out of town and say they are firing their Realtor for doing a bad job. They ask to have deposit money wired and promise to mail the keys.

  • Harris had a similar problem with a Lakes of the Four Seasons last year. He said people were actually showing up and looking in the windows.

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