Craigslist Scam finally got me good

59 Replies

So I had one of my rentals on craigslist with a lockbox on the front door.  I've been using lock boxes for 10 years.  I had a rental on the market for a few weeks giving out the code to people to look inside.  Yesterday I went to the house and there were clothes and boxes inside the house.  A few hours later 2 people showed up with a uhaul truck full ready to move in.  Could have been a disaster.  They said they wired $1400 to a man in ohio and they had a fake lease on MY HOUSE.  anybody else got a craigslist nightmare...

@Kris Haskins  

I wonder if they are telling you the truth. Sorry to hear things like this.

Happy Investing!

I've heard of these things happening where the tenants move in and then force you to evict them.  Thought it was a Miami thing...

Sorry to hear about that, I've never heard of that happening, but I hope you get it all worked out ok!

That's one of the reasons why I never give out a lock box code. You just never know people's intentions. Glad that you caught them before it was too late.

@Kris Haskins so for ten years you've been showing rentals by giving callers the lockbox code? That's interesting. I usually tell everybody that calls on one of my properties that I will meet them there at, say, 10:30-11 on a Saturday and them just see how many show up.

Before this incident though, this has been a good way to show rentals though?

What's everybody else doing?

I've never had anyone actually attempt to move-in, but I have had 1) multiple posts created at different prices, 2) someone create a phishing ad acting as though they were a missionary, and my personal favorite 3) an ad stating that the owner was leaving the country on a job assignment and had to get a tenant immediately.  First one to the door with $500 could rent.  (Rents in the area were $900)

A contractor was at the house that day and said person after person drove up.   

wow.....

thanks for sharing! 

Daniella Ortiz

@Kris Haskins

The part you left out is 'how often / soon do you change the combination on the lockbox'. If you change the code on it daily if not every two to three days this incident may very well had been avoided. Hopefully in the future you will do so.  

Its very unfortunate this happened on your property and to the victims that are out of $1400 as well as a place to stay. I've come across a few of those posts on CL and backpage. The poster only gives out the intersect and gives a pissed-poor reason for not giving out the address until they receive any monies. Others will claim to be out of the country and will have to have the monies sent to them first before you even get to see the property. Such a shame people fall for these (even as a non-real estate professional, one should know better). Craigslist has a disclosure / warning about wiring monies scams and so forth to all who visit the website, smh....  

Kudos,

Mary

Yup...this happens all the time in Florida. People lease houses they don't own. Sad.

It wasn't CraigsList, but it was a scam.  One of our rental houses was vacant and someone started using the address for establishing a cell phone account.  While we were working on the house, we noticed the cell phone company bills in the mail box.  We called the cell phone company and reported it and marked the envelope "Return to Sender." Turns out the person who established the account made many calls to a penitentiary in another state.  The cell phone company representative told me this type of thing is not too uncommon.

Maybe consider this:

https://ifttt.com/recipes/506-call-me-if-my-addres...

I've run into two families that have fallen for this scam. Both were on limited fixed incomes and seemed pretty up and up, though obviously vulnerable. It was an extra shame for the one, as the head of household was a veteran with a clear learning disability caring for an elderly dependent father. Both were out the money they put down for the month and were homeless until the next, as they had both moved up to the area from their rentals in the bay area. Definitely keep your rentals secure until rented!

Originally posted by @Kris Haskins:

So I had one of my rentals on craigslist with a lockbox on the front door.  I've been using lock boxes for 10 years.  I had a rental on the market for a few weeks giving out the code to people to look inside.  Yesterday I went to the house and there were clothes and boxes inside the house.  A few hours later 2 people showed up with a uhaul truck full ready to move in.  Could have been a disaster.  They said they wired $1400 to a man in ohio and they had a fake lease on MY HOUSE.  anybody else got a craigslist nightmare...

What the hell?

Never crossed my mind that some people could be so gullible.

I was also considering doing the same with the lock box code.

I guess I won't now.

Thanks for sharing.

I'm less worried in the lockbox scenario with the "fake owner signing up sucker for a fake lease" scam, and more for the "future burglar" making copies of the key that they have access to when I give them the lockbox code, and coming back later to strip the house, or burgle it once someone has moved some valuables in.

woow that's one of many real estate problems that need to be solve but its hard to stay100% aware when people minds grow in a negative ways were it's uncontrollable unto one finds the remedy to control the situation, stay alert!!! 

This is a lesson to be learn for every body.

Sorry to read bad news I hope it never happen again to you or any body else..

Sorry about the bad news Kris- whats next?

You let people you don't know look inside / walk around your properties without supervision?? 

First of all, tsk tsk to everyone who suggests Kris should not allow people to visit his rentals unattended. 

Real estate is all about risk management - taking the right risks and not assuming the wrong risks.  It's not about avoiding risk entirely. In many areas, allowing people unescorted access to a house works most of the time, in other areas it is stupid.  But escorting in areas with a low probability of trouble is a waste of time.  How do you know what the situation is?

I would point out that Kris was vigilant in monitoring his property and caught this situation and was not hurt.  I would say he gets an A+ for risk management and risk mitigation and will probably, therefore, do very well with his business.

As far as lockboxes go, I'm leaning towards figuring out how to make these remote controlled lock systems go.  This way you can change the lock for every visitor.

http://www.wired.com/2013/06/smart-locks/

You can buy one or two and then move it from house to house.

>KNC<

If you're going to give out lockbiox codes, I would change the combo every time you're at the house.

Marc Hanson - you change the locks after you have a signed lease. 

Adam F - yes, they are unsupervised going through the properties.

I have had this scam happen twice to me on a listing a posted on Craig's List. They stole the info and picture if the house I was selling and posted it as a rental. Person was out of the country. Luckily I think I caught it in time before anyone fell for the scam.

You might want to watermark your photos with your contact info.

I set up a time and day to show people the house as a group.  This avoids giving codes.  That's too risky for so many reasons.  

There are locks now where you can send the key via smartphone and it can expire immediately after use.  

Thanks for sharing.  Glad you were able to stop them.  

Originally posted by @Kevin Hill:

You might want to watermark your photos with your contact info.

 @Kevin Hill I really like this idea!

I have had full ads copied and reposted with new contact and pricing info. Fortunately we caught it early. I sent a scathing email to the poster informing them that their info had been forwarded to the IC3; Internet Fraud Center, FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center. The ad was immediately removed and I have never had a problem since.

I had one of my properties listed on Zillow for rent at a low price.  It pictures from some other house.  I caught it because I was posting this house for rent on Craigslist and someone called me and asked which rent was right.  

Zillow was pretty responsive in taking it down.

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