Man loses thousands to rental scam

Man loses thousands to rental scam

Spokane’s housing market is tight and people are desperate find a nice place to live – so desperate, they’re falling for scams that can cost thousands.

A Spokane man discovered he put down $3,600 to rent a house that wasn’t even on the market.

Windermere relator Chris Connelly got a call Monday from a client who just moved into a home on E. Courtland. There was a stranger at the door who said he was moving in too, and had already paid rent.

“I said, did you hear about this place on Craigslist? And he said yes, and I said, sorry sir, I think you’ve been scammed,” Connelly said.

Scammers are downloading photos from legitimate real estate listings and them to create fake posts on Craigslist. Thieves promise interested renters a key in the mail but only after they are wired a certain amount of money.

“We’re seeing it in the real estate world as a growing problem of scammers that are really trying to take advantage of a congested rental market,” said Connelly.

Craigslist can be a useful tool for finding a roommate, or a place to live – but renters need to be extra careful.

“If you can not get in the home – actual physical access into that home, that should be an immediate red flag that this person has no access to that home,” Connelly said.

Never wire money to a person you have never met – especially if you haven’t seen the property.

“People are desperate to get into places and so I think that’s why they’re willing to put more at risk to try and get into a place,” Connelly said.