3 Ways to Identify a Fraudulent Housing Ad on Craigslist

Ah, Craigslist, everyone’s favorite free source for finding roommates, apartments, furniture and jobs!

You’d be hard pressed to find an individual who isn’t familiar with the world famous website, although true tales of folks encountering “scams” or fraudulent ads are hair raising enough to make you think twice about using the site.  Still, the best way to protect yourself against the “rotten apple” apartment scams that spoil the whole bunch is to educate yourself.  Here are the 5 biggest red flags when it comes to identifying a fraudulent Craigslist ad for an apartment.

scam

1.  The price is unbelievable.

If it’s too good to be true then it probably is! Be realistic when it comes to ads for very under priced rentals.  Get to know the market by browsing around at other rental prices in the area. Also, use common sense.  A 3 bedroom house for rent in Los Angeles for $1000? Most likely it is a scam waiting to happen.

2.  Suspicious Story

Some ads seem very legitimate, but if the person who are interacting with is conveniently out of the country (on a religious mission, left last minute for a job opportunity, is currently traveling) then it is most likely a scam.  Usually, after explaining why they are out of the country, they will ask you for personal information and lastly, will ask you to send funds for the deposit or first months rent via wire or Paypal.

3.  You are unable to view the rental in advance.

Sure, they can send you all of the pictures in the world, but when you are renting without being able to view in advance, this is a huge sign of a fraudulent Craigslist ad.  Renting from a distance and have to rent sight unseen? You can still test for a scam by letting them know that you have a friend in the area who will first need to look at the rental.  If they still give excuses as to why you or your friend will be unable to view it, your best bet is to walk away.