Internet Con Artists Target Potential Tenants
OKLAHOMA CITY - Internet con artists are actively targeting people in Oklahoma. A Craigslist scam has people shelling out cash to others claiming to own homes in the metro.
The scammers will post an ad for a home on Craigslist to rent. They don't own the home, but they do all they can to convince unsuspecting people to send over a deposit and first month's rent. From Edmond to southwest Oklahoma City, homes with for sale signs are being picked off to be used in the scams.
"These people don't even live in Oklahoma City," victim Andree Duckworth said.
Duckworth is currently looking on Craigslist for a place to rent, but after getting suspicious email after email from potential landlords, she called News 9.
"After the lease had been signed is when they would send the keys and I would assume [ask for a deposit and first month's rent]," Duckworth said, " … It was too suspicious for me."
News 9 tracked down one of the homes Duckworth's scammer was using to lure her in. News 9 stopped to talk with the owner of the home and to introduce her to Duckworth. Just as Duckworth suspected, the owner had no idea her address was being used online.
"I feel bad for those driving around trying to rent houses and come to find out it's really for sale," the homeowner told News 9.
The homeowner asked not to be identified. In this type of scam, the actual homeowner is a victim as well. News 9 found an Oklahoma City home on Craigslist that also has a for sale sign, so we called the realtor to see what he knew.
"We have about 50 listings a year, and it happens every year, so magnify that by 11,000 homes on the market," realtor Ryan Woods said.
Realtors say people will send the con artists up to $800 in the mail. That is something Duckworth is hoping this report will help deter.
"If you feel worried about it in the least, trust your gut," Duckworth said.
These scams are nothing new, but realtors say they are seeing a spike right now. For information on how you can confirm who owns certain properties, visit the Oklahoma County Assessor's Office website.
For properties outside of Oklahoma County, visit the appropriate county assessor's website.