Craigslist scams have been around for a long time. Usually it's people asking to send them money, and, once they receive it, they'll send you the product, which often doesn’t happen.
Well, now these scammers are getting into the real estate business.
“It's a scam I could have easily fell for,” said Venus Montgomery.
She and her family moved from Minnesota almost 2 weeks ago and have been looking for a place to rent. She went on Craigslist to see if she could find any good deals, and she found a house on Sycamore Street in Chico.
She called the number, and immediately got a text asking for her email address so the person could send more information.
“He sent me a long letter telling me his wife was dying of cancer and she has less than 6 months to live,” she said.
This was the person’s reasoning for renting out the house. The person then asked her to fill out the application along with a $50 fee, and to go look at the house if she wanted to.
“I noticed when I was out here, there were 3 other perspective tenants that were looking as well and we looked in the windows and we were impressed. I was ready to move in, I was envisioning living here and my children running around here; it's a beautiful cul-de-sac here, plenty of room. This is the perfect scam.”
It's a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house, and the email said it was $1,200 a month.
“And he's not asking so small of an amount that you could say ‘oh, this is a scam.’”
But then her mother-in-law told her a story of a housing scam in Redding that sounded oddly similar, and that's when they became skeptical.
As their conversation went on, the person asked for a $2,400 security deposit and said once that’s paid, she’d be able to move in.
“$2,400 could harm me and my family beyond repair,” Montgomery said. “I feel victimized even though I didn't give up any money.”
The property manager and said this happens all the time. She said that, just about every day, somebody will call and tell her about it.
This is why she has her sign up on the lawn; she’s hoping people will call her when they come to look at the house and she can let them know if they’re being scammed.
She said this has been going on for about a year and a half and the fake advertisement usually comes 24 to 48 hours after the real posting.
She reports all of the fake ones and asks others to as well, but says nothing ever comes of it.