It started on a Friday night two weeks ago, at my Elkhorn Condo when my current tenant called me to say something strange had just happened. A young couple had knocked on her door, suitcases in hand and looking exasperated.
They said they had rented the condo for one month for $2,000. But after waiting for hours for me to meet them with the key, they decided to just go direct to the condo. They saw it listed on Craigslist and after replying and following all that was asked of them, including signing a lease with my name on it, they wired $2,000 to the bank account that they assumed was mine. After realizing they had been scammed, they filed a report of fraudulence and money scamming with the Sun Valley Police Department. I was so furious that this happened that I called my friend and local real estate broker, Page Klune, to help me to try and catch these scumbags. Even though it had been pulled from Craigslist, Page managed to get them back and all the way to sending a new lease, again with my name on it, and a new different wire account number to send her money to. We contacted the Sun Valley Police Department and kept them informed. They had already submitted a request for search warrants for the first account at the bank where the young couple’s money had been wired, and warrants for the cell number and the email the couple used for contact.
Page’s meeting had been set for the scammers to meet her, and she would give them the signed lease and cash for the condo. She told them she didn’t want to wire the money. Of course, we knew they would never show up. However, she did get a new account number to wire the money. We are hoping that the police can follow up and find these scammers.
So I tell this story to tell anyone never to put to your listing to rent or sell on Craigslist. I never did, but they found my condo on Google with photos, when it was for sale. They pulled the photos and used these as their own listing. They found my name in public records when I bought the condo.
Everyone should check Craigslist and other listings, even if you have never used any of them. Your condo may be listed for rent! That is all we can do to protect ourselves, but there is nothing the potential renters can do, other than never wire money, and never assume the rental is legitimate.
Mary Rolland, New York, N.Y.