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Craigslist Rental Scam Puts Identity and Money at Risk

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- While Craigslist has made connecting renters to properties easier, it has also opened up new channels for scammers.
"It's almost like the wild west of scams, but instead of using pistols to rob people, they're using keyboards."
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- While Craigslist has made connecting renters to properties easier, it has also opened up new channels for scammers.

One type of scam has made its way to the Ozarks.

Shad Friend owns Southwest Housing, a property management company in Springfield.

He posts houses for rent on Craigslist all the time, but with one stipulation.

"It's very important to not put your address on Craigslist," Friend said.

That's because scammers from across the world are using the addresses to take thousands of dollars from hopeful renters.

"They've stolen the pictures and information from someone else's ad and then people will be like why is this house listed here for $2000 and here for $1500," he said.

They post fake listings, then ask potential renters to send them an application and deposit, which is problematic for two reasons.

"They will steal your identity and then if you send them a deposit you're never going to get that deposit back," he said.

Friend said he's seeing this scam more and more.

"It's very frustrating because it's almost like the wild west of scams, but instead of using pistols to rob people, they're using keyboards," he said.

One way renters can protect themselves is by checking to see who actually owns the house.

"You can go to the assessor's office and find out who actually owns the property," Friend said.

Also, do your research to see if that house has been listed more than once.

As for landlords, the best way Friend said to protect yourself is by not listing the exact address.

"Put a general location, like Southeast or Southwest Springfield," he said.

His main message is do your research when it comes to Craigslist because things are not always as they seem.

Unfortunately, it is very difficult for the authorities to catch these scammers.

Once a person has wired money to them, it's usually gone for good.

Friend said never wire money and always ask to meet in person before giving away any personal information.
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