How to Tell if That Sacramento House is a Craigslist Rental Scam
Odds are high that a Craigslist rental scam is in your future, especially if you’re a prospective tenant searching for a house to rent in Sacramento. Probably the best place to find a house for rent in Sacramento is through property management companies, and you will find a list of those companies in that link. Yet many tenants comb through the internet searching for a place to rent, and Craigslist is one of those websites. It’s an easy place to post rental listings and anybody can do it. Which means crooks are over Craigslist like giant pandas on bamboo.
It’s not really the fault of Craigslist. It can happen on any free website. Many of the crooks who try to rip off people on Craigslist do not read English very well. They also hop over to another free website to swipe photographs and descriptions of homes for sale in Sacramento and they convert those listings into rentals on Craigslist.
I know that is how many a Craigslist rental scam happens beyond a shadow of a doubt. That’s because I embed my name in my Sacramento real estate listings, along with my telephone number. The crooks know enough to remove the phone number, but my first and last name are just letters forming words they do not comprehend, so they leave it in the description. For all they know, Elizabeth Weintraub is a type of house, like a Tudor.
It is easy to find Elizabeth Weintraub on Google. If you put my name into Google, almost half a million pages come up. Yup, today it returned 442,000 results. A few of those are a vet in Illinois but most are about this Sacramento Realtor. Plagiarized articles show up, too, meaning people have republished copyrighted material without permission, thinking as long as they include my name it is permissible. It is not. But the first entry takes a person directly to my website, which is how tenants find my cellphone.
Your first clue to a Craigslist rental scam should be if you spot the name of Elizabeth Weintraub. If you do, it is a scam. Real estate agents do not handle rentals in Sacramento, unless they work for a property management company. Sacramento Realtors also don’t find rentals for tenants like they do in other metropolitan cities.
Your second clue to a Craigslist rental scam is whether the home is also for sale on other websites. Just put the property address into Google and note what pops up. Of course, you will find my website, too, because I list many homes in Sacramento and am prominently featured in Google but, like I mentioned, I don’t handle rentals.
Your third clue to a Craigslist rental scam is whether the instructions to forward money seem a bit weird or are oddly worded. If it sounds like the scammer struggles with English, that could be a clue that they are based outside of the country. Often it’s Nigeria where these scammers exist. Or, it could be a homeowner for whom English is just a second language, so don’t judge all people by an inability to read or write English.
Your fourth clue to a Craigslist rental scam is the rental amount seems incredibly low for what you get. If you were expecting to pay, say, $2,000 for a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home in Land Park, for example, and that home is advertised as available at $800 a month, it is most likely a scam. Remember what you parents told you about something that seems too good to be true. This is not your lucky day.
Your fifth clue to a Craigslist rental scam is the poster will want you to send a check or wire the money immediately. It is possible they could meet in person to rip you off, but most likely it will happen starting with email and sending money elsewhere.
If you have been ripped off already, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (providing this crucial governmental arm survives the incoming 2017 presidential administration) or the FBI, which investigates internet fraud. Above all, flag the posting on Craigslist.