At its best, it’s the premiere classified site and message board, and at its worst, it’s a breeding ground for Craigslist OC rental scams. One of the most popular destinations for users of Craigslist OC is the housing section, which exists in each city and country where Craigslist OC has created a section. Housing sections feature the categories of apartments/housing, housing swap, house wanted, office/commercial, parking/storage, real estate for sale, rooms/shared, rooms wanted, sublets/temporary, and vacation rentals.
Used by real estate agents, renters, homeowners, roommates, and more, it is a premier destination for finding local housing or even business rentals. What started as an excellent way for individual users to connect with private parties leasing their home or business, has now morphed into a hotbed for scams.
The best way to recognize Craigslist OC housing scams are, as follows:
The Listing Has No Photos
While this isn’t always indicative of a scam, these days most everyone has a smartphone with a camera to snap a few photos of their leased home, business, room, or unit. If an advertisement for rental has NO images, beware.
Make sure to utilize Craigslist’s new anonymous email reply feature (which encodes your actual email address for your initial emails) and ask the user to add photos to their posting. Beware of photo files sent to you, that you have to download to open.
They Want Your Personal Information
You see a beautiful rental listing and reply to the post, hoping to be one of the first people to view it in person. Surprisingly, the original poster writes back needing various personal information about you ranging from your driver’s license, social security number, a credit card, or even your bank information. The moment someone asks you for personal information of this kind, you can rest assured that it is almost guaranteed that the listing you sought is a scam and the person on the other end of the ad merely wanting to steal your money and identity.
Beautiful Home or Unit, for Pennies on the Dollar
Everyone would love to find a great deal on a local home or rental, but when a particularly attractive or sought after home or area is listed for hundreds (or thousands) less than the going rate, you can be all but guaranteed the posting are Craigslist apartment scams and only there to trick eager leasers.
No Security Deposit, a Month Free, etc.
If the advertisement sounds like a carrot being dangled, then it is more likely to be a scam. Most modern owners with decently rent-able properties don’t want to give away their earnings for free. While including free cable or water paid is regular, a suspiciously large offer of something “free” should be met with more scrutiny.
Owner Is out of Town
They have photos of a property you are sure you want to rent, for a high price. The original poster gives you the address, and you drive by the property to look at it, where you see a “for lease” sign in the front yard. So far, everything seems to check out.
However, a popular Craigslist rental scam is to post photos and the address of an actual rental property, which the poster doesn’t actually own, then attempt to have prospective renter wire transfer or authorize payment for the lease or deposit, by claiming they can rent it but it isn’t available to show right now. This is often excused by saying the “owner” is out of town. The person(s) interested in leasing are so desperate to lease property of that caliber, which they agree to send or authorize funds.