By Outer Banks Association of REALTORS (OBAR) on May 15, 2019
Last year, the Outer Banks Association of REALTORS® (OBAR) began warning residents of the OBX to be on the look out for scams involving long and short-term rentals on Craigslist. Scammers have begun posting ads on Craigslist looking for potential renters and offer extremely low prices. Some of these ads list legitimate rental companies in the Outer Banks.
According to Fox News, rental home listing scams started to become widespread as of May 2016. It was also listed as one of the top 10 worst scams of 2017 by MIC.com. According to reportscam.com, it is in the top ten worst scams of 2019.
OBAR 2019 President, Jean-Paul Peron, of The Outer Banks Real estate Company at eXp Realty in Corova explains, “When the renter responds to the ad, the ‘landlord’ will send an email with a convoluted story about how they cannot meet the interested party but invites them to look around the property.” According to Peron, “The ‘landlord’ will also mention that there is a lot of interest and suggest that the person wire months of rent payments in advance to secure the rental before someone else can. And they can be pretty believable which is why this is such a popular scam.”
Outer Banks Association of REALTORS® MLS Director Dan Sutherland responds, “In addition to the many we learned about last year, we have received at least 3 reports of this type of scam in the last month alone and know there are many more that have not been reported because the victims do not know to contact us.” It is easy to fall victim to this type of scam. Says Sutherland, “What happens is that the scammer will download pictures of a house that has just sold and will post it in a Craigslist ad as a long or short-term rental. The ad is eye-catching because the rent is very low, and the pictures are higher quality. Potential renters are lulled into a false sense of security especially if a local rental company and agent are listed.”
Sutherland says, “Basically if it looks too good to be true, it is. Pay attention if warning bells go off and never wire funds without meeting the landlord first. It is always a good idea to search the Dare County tax records to see if the home was recently sold and if the current owner’s name matches the landlord’s.”
Says Peron, “The Association is now getting calls from all over the country about listings on craigslist that are scams. Some of them have already wired money and there is no way to get it back. It is also very tricky because the scammers will post the house once, and then once there is interest, they remove it and create a new one so that it’s hard to track them down. It is imperative that we get the word out, not just in the Outer Banks but nationally as well.”
If you find yourself the victim of this scam the Outer Banks Association of REALTORS® requests that you contact them immediately so they may assist you in reporting the crime.