Imagine seeing the home you live in posted online as available for rent.
Imagine seeing the home you live in posted online as available for rent. It is part of a scam targeting homeowners all over. Cindi Vandenburgh is one of them.
"A friend of mine called me and said, 'Your house is for rent on Craigslist. It's a scam!' So I looked it up and there it was," Vandenburgh said.
The ad looks great. It shows a well-manicured home with three bedrooms, hardwood floors, deck, and patio fully furnished -- all for $950 a month.
There were many photos of the inside and outside. There is just one big problem.
"I've owned this house since it was built,” added Vandenburgh. “Never been for rent."
Vandenburgh is not renting out her house, but she is selling her home in a family-friendly neighborhood north of Saratoga. She recently put it on the market and that is where the scammers got the pictures.
"I kind of panicked that people were going to be knocking on my door and looking for money that they put for down-payments on my house for rent," said Vandenburgh. “I emailed the person and told them it was my house, to take it off. Within an hour the ad was gone."
Vandenburgh has since put up her own ad on Craigslist alerting people to the scam involving her property. However, this scam and variations of it are all over.
"I've seen others on there because I started looking through them and there are others that I know are for sale around here because I've been watching the homes for sale in the paper and there are others on there," Vandenburgh said.
Earlier this year, an Irondequoit man discovered scammers were using his property to trick potential renters into wiring them money. He put a rental on Zillow. The scammer ripped the photos and put them on Craigslist as a different contact.
The landlord did not realize what was going on until people showed up at the home while he was showing it to someone else.
Craigslist has a number of safety tips for homeowners and renters:
- Do not pay anyone you haven't met in person
- Do not rent without seeing the place
- Do not give out personal or financial information in advance