Homes like the one being sold by All Service Realty in Weston and Jane Lew, sitting between Jane Lew and Berlin in Lewis County, looked like the perfect place for a potential homeowner who recently found the house listed for rent on Craigslist. But the sales signs are no lie, All Service Realty is actually selling the home, and the renter was actually being scammed. Realtor Bob Taylor said the scammers have their pitch down to a science.
“Yes, we have relocated to California, we’re doing missionary work, we’re going to be going out there for the next five to six years, and we’d like someone with the same Christian values that we have to move into the home and take good care of it. We have a couple dogs and two to three cats, and it’s $900 a month rent,” Taylor said.
But what about the sign in the front yard? The scammers said they’ve cut ties with the realtor so the sign should be ignored. One money order later, potential renters are out hundreds of dollars. It’s a problem that Taylor said is hard to tackle.
“Really we can’t do anything because there’s no monitoring on Craigslist. Someone raises a red flag and you just have to work with it. I’m not sure if there’s any police force on Craigslist that polices things like that because as soon as they appear, they disappear,” said Taylor.
The worst part about the scam is that the real estate market is a competitive one, with people often rushing to claim a place before someone else. Taylor said a bit of caution can keep things from going bad.
“They want to be first. They don’t want an opportunity to get away, so if you’re not sure, call a real estate agent. They may not be able to help you rent it, but they can steer you in the right direction,” said Taylor.