Craigslist scam puts Clearwater woman's home up for rent without permission

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Elaine Poulin thinks the her house on Lakeview road has a lot to offer.  But even she was surprised by a sudden surge of attention.

"They've been pulling up and pulling up here," Poulin said.
 
Poulin's house was vacated by its most recent tenants a few weeks ago, and a realtor has been working to find new renters.  Elaine assumed the people showing up were referred by that realtor, until her neighbor asked about her online deal.
 
"He said 'Did you list your house on craigslist?'" Elaine said. "No!"
 
But somebody did.
 
Elaine's home was posted on a Craigslist ad for rent at half the asking price.  Pictures included in the ad were the same ones listed on her Realtor's website, and the account was set up by an e-mail address in Elaine's deceased husband's name.
 
"It's a scam," said Officer Harry Augello with Tampa Police.
 
Augello says this exact type of scam is becoming more common.  He says many victims lose money when they answer phony ads, fronting cash to so-called sellers who quickly disappear.
 
"There have been instances where people have gone in on vacant homes and brought in locksmiths and changed the locks and pretended they were the new owners of the house," Augello said.
 
Police say renters should never put money down on a property without inspecting it first, and verifying the landlord or seller is legit. 
 
There is even a section on craigslist offering tips on how to avoid this type of scam and others at http://tampa.craigslist.org/about/scams
Print this article Back to Top

Comments