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Have You Been Craigs-RE-Listed?

June 20, 2012  |  by Anne

Katja Hom, Director of Business Development at Avery-Hess shares with us an interesting story about Craigslist.  Read below to see how Craigs-RE-listing works and how you can handle the situation if it happens to you.

Original Article:



Have You Been Craigs-RE-Listed?

Two weeks ago one of my investment properties needed a new tenant.  As a REALTOR and Investor, in addition to using our wonderful MRIS, I use Craigslist to advertise my rental properties and can proudly boast a 100% success rate in finding new tenants.

I went onto Postlets to create a more dramatic flyer with numerous photos of the house instead of standard four photos Craigslist permits. Within 30 minutes, my housing ad was up and I was waiting potential renters to flood my inbox with inquries.

An entire day went by and nothing- that’s like eternity for Craigslist rental postings!

Knowing how hot the rental market is, I knew something wasn’t right. I decided to search for my listing like a consumer and found it….twice! The first one I found was not my beautiful Postlet flyer, but rather a simple Craigslist ad that stated the rental price was $800 a month instead of the actual $2,200 asking price.

At that moment I realized I had just been poached, or in other words…..Craigs-RE-Listed!

After my initial shock, I figured there was only one way to handle this; respond to the false ad and see what happens. I hit reply and sent an email to a hotmail account that was clearly displayed as the contact in the posting. I acted as a consumer and pretended to have an interest in the house even asked to see it. Within minutes I received a reply back from someone who claimed to be out of state, but instructed me to drive by the home to see the outside, and, if I still had an interest, they would make arrangements to show it to me. I responded back and mentioned that I was familiar with the area and definitely wanted to see the inside of the house. The response back was “arrangements could be made,” but because the owner was out of state a cash deposit was needed. This exchange lasted a few more emails until I finally revealed I was the actual owner of the house and was appalled by the scam. To my surprise the person responded by calling me names and was clearly disgusted by me ruining their scam.

I flagged the post so Craigslist would be notified and then reported the scam, along with my email exchanges to the local police bureau. I was informed scams like this fall under the identity theft unit and that local jurisdictions have a hard time working them since not many people take the steps I took to report these scams to authorities.

How did my story end?
I went to the house that same day to do some yard work and up pulled a car. Turns out someone else fell for the bogus ad, but instead of emailing the person, they decided to drive by the house. We met, I showed them the house and after explaining the scam they completed an application for the true list price. I’m happy to say they moved into the house a short while later!

What’s the lesson to be learned?
If you’re a listing agent, even if you do not use Craigslist, your listings might get poached and used in a scam.  Be proactive; in this new world of online postings and listing syndication, be sure to check for your listings on sites like Craigslist and keep your clients informed. No one wants an upset client asking why their home appears online with minimal and/or wrong information, marginal photo usage and incorrect points of contact.  If you are scammed, be sure to report it to your local authorities, so together we can work towards preventing this type of scam from happening to other REALTORS.

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9 responses to “Have You Been Craigs-RE-Listed?”

  1. Marie says:

    I just had my listing and personal investment property Scammed on CraigsList. Luckily I have a nosy neighbor and when the prospect pulled into the driveway the neighbor was there to answer her questions. The prospect explained that she was to drive by and if liked it put a deposit down to see inside. Luckily she didn't trust it either. I tried to find the posting but it was already gone.

  2. This happend to me a few years ago, only it was after my transaction had been completed for several months. Here's how the Baltimore Sun reported it:

  3. Angela Foley says:

    When I see this, I report it to the listing agent. Often times, it is not even a property that is currently listed as active. Just recently, I responded to 3 craigslist ads for properties for rent, ALL 3 were scams! Something needs to be done and I am willing to do whatever we can do together to make this happen.

  4. Delaine says:

    About a year ago I saw a condo in Old Town listed for rent. I knew the photo shown wasn’t of that condo – the photo shown was a modern, loft like NY flat on the cover of a magazine. The true rental was in a garden style condo built in the 1940s. I pretened I was an iterested renter and of couse got the same approach as mentioned below. He was out of state and wanted a deposit to see it. I looked it up on the MLS and called the listing agent, so that he could report the scam.

    Just last month I posted a new listing for rent and it was scammed. My $1500 a month rental was shown for $700. I got a lot of calls unfortunately and many people were very disappointed to learn the ad was fake. It really got their hopes up for a nice house that they could afford. I could tell on the phone some were almost heartbroken to learn the real price.

    I hope everyone checks listings and reports these people to he police. And I hope that we can put enought pressure on Craigslist owners to post a warning and information to unknowing people about the frauds. It makes real estate agents look bad.

  5. Patrick Dotson,… (pretending to be a licensed real estate agent, who actually produced printed business cards with the "R") saw a post on Craigslist for a couple searching for a rental in Annapolis. Patrick contacted them & said he could show them my listing. He wasn't able to get inside on the 1st visit & told them to come back the next night. They got suspisious & checked the internet…called me. I checked state records, he didn't have a real estate license. They actually rented it for a few yrs & bought their 1st home – with me as their agent last month.

  6. Mandy C. says:

    This has happened several times in my office as well. We decided to only advertise of CraigsList at the client's request and we ask them to sign a disclosure and release form so that they are aware of this risk.

  7. M Wilson says:

    This same thing happened to me on a listing that was only listed on MRIS. Apparently, the scammers don't even need a Craigslist ad to scam because they pulled info from my MRIS listing. I am also cautious about postng on Craigslist, but I mainly use the experience to warn my clients looking for housing to be very careful about ads that seem "too good to be true," because they are just that!

  8. A Taylor says:

    Happened to my $2600 a month listing that was also only on MRIS as I do not advertise my listings on s site with adult services. It was also put on Craig's list for $800. We actually had people knocking on the neighbor's door to see if they could get in. When people called me about it I responded " If it seems to good to be true…"

  9. Deb Valainis says:

    As REALTORS we are seeing this happen all too frequently. We need to do our due diligence and be pro-active in order to call such scams out an put and end to them once and for all. We need to protect our clients and our own good reputations. Kudos to those of you who have taken the time to report such scams! Keep up the good work!

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