Steve Ryan, MAR General Counsel
Michael McDonagh, MAR Associate Counsel
Anthony DeGregorio, MAR Legislative & Regulatory Counsel
Beware Craigslist Scam
Several months ago the Association warned members of a Craigslist internet scam. The scam has reappeared in a new variation. In this variation, listing information including photos are gathered from an agent’s or brokerage firm’s website and a fake Craigslist ad is created advertising the property for rent, typically at a bargain rental. The ad is accompanied by contact information which includes an email address and a phone number, which may be the agent’s or the owner’s phone number. Email inquiries receive replies with an elaborate story concerning the “owner’s” necessity of renting very quickly. Of course, the scammer then makes off with the deposit for the “rental.”
REALTORS® should be careful of putting too much information concerning their listings out on the internet. REALTORS® may wish to reconsider advertising on websites that do not provide security measures to weed out ads that are not identified. Finally, if an agent begins receiving inquiries concerning property for rent when the property is really listed for sale, the agent should immediately check Craigslist and other similar websites to ensure that their listing is not being misrepresented by a scammer. Agents should also advise owners to refer all inquires concerning the property, whether for lease or sale, to their agent so as to avoid providing private information to scammers or lending credence to lies told to an innocent party. For further information contact the MAR Legal Hotline at 800-370-LEGAL or visit www.realtor.org.