In Your Corner: Is Someone Renting YOUR House?

By Ryan Elijah

June 18, 2010 Updated Jun 29, 2009 at 10:17 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter)--
Debbie Torres is looking for a nice home to rent with her 3 kids, she found what she thought was the perfect home on Craigslist
Debbie Torres, "it stood out, great house,good schools and it was so cheap".

Debbie responded to the ad, knowing 800 dollars a month for the Northeast Fort Wayne was a great deal. She received a response back that indicated the family had left the country for business and wanted someone to rent the home out until they returned. She became suspicious and sent a follow up e-mail when the man asked for her to send him money and he would send the keys.
"no response", said Debbie.

The next day, the ad was flagged on Craigslist and taken down, it turns out the home was actually just listed for sale 13 days ago. The homeowner was shocked to find out his property was being offered for rent, complete with pictures. Maybe most disturbing, his name was actually used on the Craiglist account and a phony yahoo account was also set up with his name, but he isn't the only one mad about the phony listing.

Debbie "makes me mad and scared for others that might not do their homework and will send money and get scammed".

Craigslist makes it clear on their site. they're not responsible for the content of listings. They list several steps for users to prevent them from being scammed, including "deal locally with people you meet in person and never wire money via Western Union or Moneygram.
While Craigslist is good at educating it's users, dealing with a media request for a story might be a different story. Media Outlets are only given an e-mail address and no phone number. despite two e-mails and contacting their outside public relations firm directly, we have yet to hear back from the company.

The Realtor and homeowner declined to talk on camera, but told us they received between 8 and 10 calls about the house before the ad was taken down. One local Realty firm told us their Realtors often post legitimate ads on Craigslist, but they have had difficulty getting Craigslist to better police real estate scams on it's site.

We found a number of similar home rental scams taking place around the country. Since Craigslist never responded to our request about how they pursue these scams, it's hard to say if the violator will ever be caught. One thing is clear, if you use a site like Craigslist to buy or sell, be advised to use caution.

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