Online Rental Scam Costs Victim $1,100

A woman moving to Johnston County lost money in a widespread housing scam. The woman was looking for places to rent in Smithfield and saw a CraigsList ad for a home with nice amenities.  After exchanging emails with a person who claimed to be the landlord, she sent $1,100 as a deposit on the home.

When the woman showed up at the home it was not as described and, in fact, was being remodeled. She began asking questions and realized the person on CraigsList wasn’t the landlord, even though the home was rental property.

Police said the victim was able to eventually find a home in Four Oaks but still lost $1,100 in the scam.

Oftentimes the scammers give an excuse as to why they can’t show you the home in person, but the property is usually listed at hundreds of dollars below what a similar home would rent for in the area. They also want money up front before you view the home. Oftentimes the address of the home is not revealed, only the city. And usually the photos are not posted with the listing.  Some of the temporarily email accounts they establish have unusual user names.

If you are not able to easily verify the owner of a property listed for rent online or if the home even exists experts say don’t hesitate to look for another property.