A rental scam utilizing Craigslist has reared its ugly head once again in central Indiana and the State Police want to warn the public to be mindful of their dealings.
On Feb. 2, a Plainfield, Ind., resident answered a Craigslist posting for a rental home in Noblesville, Ind.
The interested party inquired if the home was still available and she received an E-mail from Irene Parrish that it was and asked for the woman to fill out an application form. The woman completed the application and received an E-mail from Parrish that she was now residing in Inglewood, California and needed the victim to wire $1,900.00 to her via Moneygram. The $1,900.00 was to cover the $950.00 rent for the house and a $950.00 refundable deposit. The victim wired the money from a CVS store in Noblesville.
On Sat., Feb. 22, the victim received another E-mail from Parrish telling her that she needed another $950.00 for an extra month’s rent. The victim refused Parrish’s request informing her that she had already sent $1,900.00 and had not received the keys to the house.
The victim never received keys to the house found out later that the house was actually sold by a Reality Company that had their sign in the yard one week prior to the Craigslist posting.
With the increasing number of people using the internet every day to buy and sell items the people at www.craigslist.org offer the following safety tips:
The overwhelming majority of craigslist users are trustworthy and well-intentioned.
With billions of human interactions facilitated, the incidence of violent crime is extremely low.
Nevertheless, please take the same common sense precautions online as you would offline.
When meeting someone for the first time, please remember to:
• Insist on a public meeting place like a cafe.
• Do not meet in a secluded place, or invite strangers into your home.
• Be especially careful when buying/selling high value items.
• Tell a friend or family member where you're going.
• Take your cell phone along if you have one.
• Consider having a friend accompany you.
• Trust your instincts.
Taking these simple precautions helps make craigslist safer for everyone.
For more information about personal safety online, check out these resources:
Protect Yourself from Rental Scams
Waypoint Homes offers the following tips for prospective renters to avoid scams.
Before renting a house from an individual, ask for proof that they own the property. Check public records at the County Assessor’s office to be sure, and to verify that no Notice of Default (NOD) or notice of a trustee sale has been issued.
Beware of anyone who asks you to pay cash or wire money – and if you pay cash by choice, make sure to get a receipt. Wiring money sounds more official than cash but it’s not; there’s no way to trace it.
Be suspicious of a price that seems too good to be true. Try typing the street address into a search engine and see what comes up –legitimate landlords often list properties on multiple sites, so if you find several listings for a property that sounds identical but is several hundred dollars more, you’ve probably found a scam.
Be aware of the “owner’s” priorities. A legitimate landlord will want to know about your goals in finding a home, and about your and your family’s rental needs. A scammer will want to get your money. If money seems like a higher priority than anything else, that might be a sign of fraud.
Ask a lot of questions – Where will I send my rent? How can I reach someone if you are on vacation? What do I do if I need a plumber? An experienced landlord will have already thought through the answers.
Red Flags for Renters:
• “Owner” is traveling or working outside of the U.S. and will send you the keys
• “Owner” will only interact with you online, not in person
• The advertising or email response to you contains multiple misspellings and grammatical errors
• The email addresses you as Dear Sir/Madam
• The “owner” uses the title Reverend, Dr., or claims to be a missionary
• The “owner” uses a free email service such as Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail
• Payment is first priority – Cashier’s Check, FEDEX, Western Union, etc.
• Payment of deposit or first month’s rent is requested BEFORE you see the property or sign a lease
• “Owner” can’t show you the property or make arrangements for you to tour it
• Price seems surprisingly low for the home offered and the area