Real estate scams are becoming more common in these tough times. Some local realtors are finding out the hard way their properties are being listed on the internet for cheap by scam artists.
One house in the Tuscany Development of Rancho Mirage is up for rent. It has four bedrooms, three-and-a-half bathrooms and a large kitchen.
Sign up on Craigslist and you can rent it for the low price of $1,200 a month. Problem is, it’s a scam.
People sent News Channel 3 emails written by a man claiming to be renting this house.
The actual realtor, Steve Yeoman, found out about the scam when people kept calling him wanting the deal. The house is actually going for $1,850 a month.
“Obviously, it’s frustrating,” said Yeoman. “Unfortunately, people are going to be falling for this scam and sending money to some foreign country. This one, they request the deposit to be mailed or wired to Nigeria.”
The scammer only identifies himself as “Collins Jones,” a supervisor with Chevron transferred to Nigeria. He’s not the only one. Craigslist is slowly choking with these scams.
There are some cases in Desert Hot Springs of scam artists cutting the realtor’s locks off. They change the front door locks and rent the homes out to unsuspecting families.
At the very least, these scams leave the realtors in a difficult position, disappointing people looking for rental bargains.
“We don’t know too much about it except this property was listed on Craigslist and we got multiple calls from people wanting to rent this property for $1,200 a month which is way below market value,” said Yeoman.
The warning from real estate professionals is to only trust local people. If a $1,200 deposit and monthly lease for a 2,400 square foot home sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Craigslist is the Wild West of home listings, a new frontier with few laws.