Buyer Beware: Craigslist scam uses real homes in fake listings

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Soon to be movers beware. Scammers are taking advantage of those of us looking for a new home.

It's a beautiful 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1,500 square foot condo. The vaulted ceilings, open floor plan, and large rooms appeal to many buyers.

"The young people that have contacted me on this, they're angry. It's like, well how can they do that," Karen Barbagallo, a realtor with Gamino Realtors, said.

Callers are angry because they found that listing on Craigslist. The condo, which is actually for sale for $154,500 was listed on Craigslist to rent for $800.

"It’s disheartening to realize that there are people in the world that are just out for fraud purposes to get people's money and provide no service," Bargagallo said.

When we contacted the scammer about the listing we got a long email. The fake owner said he moved to Tennessee for a construction job. He gives personal information about his twin daughters and wife. Red flags popped up for us at the end of the letter. The scammer says we can't see the inside of the home until he sends the keys and documents, requesting an $800 security deposit.

"The minute someone asks you to do a wire transfer like that hang up, you're about to be scammed," Dennis Horton, with the Better Business Bureau, said.

Horton says these Craigslist scams are common, especially this time of year.

"October is one of the months where people start to make moves, purchase a home or renting a home because they want to get it done before it gets cold and the holidays begin, so now is the time where there will be rental and homeownership scams," he explained.

Horton says always research the seller, don't pay anything up front, and search online to see if any real listings come up.

"It’s the old story, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is, and people were smart enough to recognize that," Barbagallo said.

That listing has now been removed from Craigslist. In this case the scammer went as far to find the name of the actual owner and used that in the emails.

While there are scams, there are many legitimate listings on Craigslist for rental properties as well.