Craigslist scam tricks renters into giving money to a fake landlord

James Tuliano

When looking for housing, browsing Craigslist may reveal some hidden gems in your local area. You may get lucky and find a great place to call your next home, or you might get scammed.

How it works:

First, you will find an apartment or house for rent that is listed under market value. Once you find your listing, you will send an email to the scammer who posted the rental.

After inquiring about the rental, you will likely be emailed by the "landlord" that will ask you a few basic questions.

The landlord will make an excuse for why they can't show you the apartment themselves (such as being out of town). If you wanted to go through with the rental, then they will ask you to transfer money (normally via a wire transfer) for the security deposit or first month's rent, and then they will mail you the key separately.

Once you send the fake landlord the money, they will then cut all contact with you, and you'll be out of the money that you gave them.

How to prevent being scammed:

The scammers are normally not based in English-speaking countries, so broken English is usually the first sign that something may be off.

You should always try to visit your new home before you move in. If your potential future landlord makes excuses about why they can't show you the unit every time you ask, it is very likely a scam.

While it isn't always the case, a wire transfer is not normally how tenants pay rent for their housing. If this is the method of payment the landlord prefers, approach with extreme skepticism.

Example of a scam rental email:
The beginning of a rental scam.badgalcre/Reddit

In the above example, note that the landlord immediately starts by giving an excuse as to why their rental is so cheap (he just wants someone to take care of the home and doesn't need the money). He also sets up the scam so that you will not question why he isn't able to show you the apartment, as he makes it clear that he is not there due to work.

If you see a listing on Craigslist that is clearly a scam, you can report it to the website here.

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James Tuliano is an independent journalist from Cary, North Carolina. Tuliano is interested in covering the community, business, scams, and current events.

Cary, NC

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