This week, we received an email from a South St. Louis woman who had a warning for other renters: if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Her sister came across an ad on Craigslist for a $199,000 three bedroom home near Tesson Ferry and Gravois for rent for $600 a month (utilities included).
The person who posted the ad claimed to be on a mission trip in Africa. He said he tried to sell the home and didn't have any luck and he's now trying to at least rent it out temporarily. He'll send you a lease agreement, rental application, and directions on how to wire the first month's rent and a deposit to him. He claims that once he receives the money, he'll send you the keys.
One viewer became suspicious when the man claimed he couldn't find anyone to meet her and show her the inside of the home.
It turns out, the house is not for rent. It's for sale and the true owner is actually deceased. The scammers simply steal photos and information from true real estate listings and post the information on Craigslist in fake rental ads.
Here's what an FBI Field Office in South Carolina had to say about this scam this summer when it popped up on the east coast. It explains how the scam works.
Craigslist offers some general, common-sense tips to avoid problems.
Lenny Meyer of Century 21 recommends that you call a realtor about potential rental listings just to find out if they are for sale.