Rental Scam Costs Victim $1,000

A Johnston County man is one of the latest victims in a widespread housing scam.

Earlier this month, the Cleveland-area resident said he was looking on Craigslist for a home to rent in Raleigh.   He saw a listing and made contact with a man who said he was the landlord.  The landlord claimed he was now living in Oklahoma but if they could send $1,000 for the deposit he would rent the home.

After the victim sent the money he was asked to send more money for additional fees.

The victim decided to drive by the home and saw it was listed for sale. When he contacted the real owner the victim learned he had been scammed.

In August, a woman moving to Smithfield lost $1,100 in a Craigslist scam after sending money for a home in Smithfield to a person claiming to be the landlord.   The victim lost her money but was able to find a home to rent in Four Oaks.

Authorities say the scammers give an excuse as to why they can’t show you the home in person, but the property is usually listed several hundred 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 unable to easily verify the owner of a property listed for rent online, or confirm if the home even exists, experts say don’t hesitate to look for another property.