A Florida family appears to be the victim of a Craigslist rental scam, in which they rented a home that was not actually for rent. It was a bank-owned foreclosure that sat vacant for a few months, but someone reportedly advertised it for rent, eventually getting more than $2,000 in rent money from a woman and her boyfriend, WESH-TV reports.
The woman says she saw the three-bedroom house listed for $1,200 a month on Craigslist, so she contacted the landlord and took a tour of the property. She and her boyfriend signed a lease, paid $2,400 in cash and received a receipt for the transaction. A day after the woman and her baby moved in, a real estate agent came to show the house.
Gary Camarda, the real estate agent, told Orlando’s WESH-TV this happens often.
“It goes on all the time. A house sits, like this house, for four months vacant. Somebody comes along, sees it, comes in, takes some pictures and puts an ad on Craigslist advertising it for rent,” Camarda told the TV station. “It’s disgusting. I can’t believe people are doing this to innocent people. This is a young couple with a baby.”
The family must vacate the home, and the woman said they lost all their money when they paid the false rent in cash.
Craigslist can be a helpful resource for renters, but consumers should be sure to research the ads and browse with a bit of suspicion. There are certainly good deals to be had, but you should look at rental rates in the area and be wary of a landlord demanding a large cash payment upfront.
Finding a home or apartment to rent can sometimes get complicated, especially if you have no credit or a bad credit history. Before you start searching for a new place, get an idea of where you stand — you can get a free credit report summary every 30 days on Credit.com — and consider trying to improve your credit before you look for a new home. If that’s not an option, you may be able to find a broker or apartment-finding agency that can help you find landlords willing to work with bad-credit applicants.
- How Renting Can Impact Your Credit
- How to Determine Your Monthly Housing Budget
- How to Find a Good Realtor
This article originally appeared on Credit.com.