Scammer Uses Fake Rental Ad to Dupe Clients

August 13, 2013

New Orleans police say a man pretending to be a real estate agent conned at least four people into giving security deposits to rent out a property that was really for sale. 

One woman told police that she found an ad for the home as a rental on Craigslist and contacted the man, who told her he was a real estate agent. He allowed her to view the home, and she paid him a $1,000 security deposit. But when she went to collect the keys, the man never showed up. She later contacted the real estate agency that she discovered was selling the home. 

Jerome Winder, the real agent who listed the property for sale, said the home was bank-owned and not for lease. He was alarmed that the woman claimed she had been inside. 

“He had moved my yard signs from the yard, and she said she went through the house,” Winder told WDSU-News in New Orleans. The woman said the scammer had told her the house would be unlocked and to go inside, so she did. Police say the suspect was able to unlock the home by climbing through a rear window and unlocking the door from the inside. 

Reports are growing of scammers taking active sale listings and placing fake rental ads for them online, police say. 

Winder says this isn’t the first time he’s had one of his listings scraped. “I've had several of my properties that are for sale, and some kind of way they get the information off the [real estate] web sites and put them on Craigslist like they own the house,” Winder says. 

Source: “Craigslist scammer acts as fake real estate agent,” WDSU-News (New Orleans) (Aug. 11, 2013)

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