On Wednesday, 23 ABC interviewed two potential victims of a Craigslist rental scam involving a rental property in Oildale.
After that story aired, many other viewers contacted the newsroom about this scam. Dozens of them said they, too, saw many ads on Craigslist that were scams.
One woman who just rented a home found out that the property was a target for the Craigslist rental scam and now does not feel safe in her home.
The scam involves a rental property listed on a reputable property management's website. Scammers then take that information and post it on websites like Craigslist as their own. The scammer, who is usually out of the country, lists the property for much less money than the actual owner, luring in victims.
The Better Business Bureau said Craigslist rental scams are nothing new, but local real estate experts said it is definitely on the rise here in Kern County and if you are in the market to rent a home, you should be concerned.
Scammers know how to lure their victims in. The BBB warns that your first red flag should be if the rent is too low and if the landlord can't meet you and wants you to send them money before you do a walk-through.
Jami Nickell just rented a Southwest Bakersfield home using a local property management company. However, she said, the home was also hijacked by a Craigslist scammer. Nickell said the scammers were asking hundreds less than the actual rent.
"I have people coming to my house all hours of the day and night. They are looking in my windows and it's making me very insecure about living here. I am very concerned that people are peeking into my home thinking it's for rent. I have three young kids," said Nickell.
Real estate experts also said it's a warning sign if the rent seems way too low, or if the landlord wants the money wired without showing you the house.
"We do a lot of advertising on Craigslist, real advertising. Scammers take our ads and pictures then change the ad for a lower price under their name," Michelle Church of Pensinger Properties.
Federal officials believe most of these fake ads are coming out of Nigeria, which makes crimes like this impossible to control locally.
If you feel you were victimized by a Craigslist scam go to Federal Trade Commission's website, where you can report online scams.
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