SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- Scammers are taking advantage of Springfield residents by falsely listing homes for sale or rent on Craigslist.
Some of these homes are listed on actual real estate sites like Zillow and have different prices.
Scott Bratcher, Manager at MidAmerican Real Estate, says this scamming activity puts renters in a tough spot.
“We’re in this business to give people a good solid place to live, and here’s someone coming along in the middle and trying to steal money from somebody that has saved up enough deposit to be able to move up in the world or do whatever they wanna do, live in a nice place. That’s the disappointing aspect of it,” says Bratcher.
The scams on Craigslist will advertise lower rent or reduced qualifications for rent.
“When the person contacts them, they say ‘oh I’m out of town, just go look at the property, if it’s what you like then we’ll do the lease and you can put down the deposit, and then the place is yours, that money is gone once it’s submitted,” he says.
He warns renters to do their research and talk to real people or reputable companies.
“Don’t send money off into nowhere in a way that you can’t recover it. Don’t send the money because you’re in a tight spot because these scams are preying on people who are in a tight spot.”
Another online scam victim, Kamal Sen, says he thought he bought a brand new chainsaw online for $55, but what came in the mail were 20 face masks.
“I was very upset. So I called the Better Business Bureau, and I also called the Jefferson City Attorney General’s Office. I just don’t want anyone else getting scammed,” says Sen.
Stephanie Garland, with the Better Business Bureau, recommends solutions to both renters and online shoppers.
“The best thing they can do is to do their research. In anybody’s case, getting a chainsaw for 55 dollars brand new is an incredibly good deal. There’s an old saying that’s an oldy but a goody: if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t,” says Garland.
Garland says scams reporter to the BBB scam tracker within 24 hours are reported to law enforcement.
In Scott’s case, Garland says realtors, property managers, etc. should keep watch for scam listings on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.