TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – Are you in the market to rent or buy a home?
If you’re using the internet to find the perfect place, beware, doing so could cost you hundreds and even thousands of dollars due to the latest Craigslist scam.
“That’s the legitimate listing, and the exact same house they are saying is $700 a month on Craigslist,” said Broker Charles Parks, with Remax Real Estate in Terre Haute.
It’s the ultimate real estate rip-off that happens all too often.
“They want you to send them money, and then they’ll send you the key to the house,” Parks said.
It’s all part of a Craigslist scam to lure in potential renters.
News 10 first reported on this type of fraud in August of 2013, but the scam has resurfaced right here in Terre Haute. Remax Real Estate started receiving calls about two houses for rent, one on Crimson Court and the other on Barbara Lane.
Parks found it odd because the houses are for sale not for rent.
The house on Barbara Lane is currently for sale at $60,000 but a craigslist ad for the same house reflects a bargain price of $600 a month.
“They go on a legitimate website; they take the information off of that website, they copy and paste it into a Craigslist ad, and they’ll say I’m moving away. I need to rent this. I’m desperate,” explained Parks.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. In fact the person on the other end of the ad most likely has never even been to the area.
“Last round we had they tracked them down to South Africa,” stated Parks.
Once you make contact the scammer asks for a deposit and promises to send you the key to your future home.
“Needless to say you will never see your money again and you’ll never see the key to the house.”
Now Parks has a warning to make sure potential renters don’t fall victim.
“If they won’t let you inside the house its probably fraud. If it’s too good to be true its probably a fraud, and if you have difficulty communicating with them, and they aren’t upfront with you its probably fraud.”
The best way to protect yourself is to drive by the house and call the number on the for sale sign.
Remax Real Estate has contacted Craigslist to report the postings as fraud. Removing them from the website does take time.
Parks said the scams will continue to resurface, and there isn’t much they can do except warn potential buyers.