Craigslist rent scam victims lose money, send personal information

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DENVER (KDPR) — Lawrence and his fiancee Juli were gardening in their front yard on Saturday afternoon when a car carrying two people pulled up and asked to speak to them and see their belongings.

“They said, ‘We’re going to rent this house. We’re coming for a tour on Monday,'” Lawrence said.

The couple bought their home in the Athmar Park neighborhood in 2020. They told FOX31 that the two women who showed up on their doorstep found their home on Craigslist for rent.

“We basically thought we owned this house, so you could be scammed,” Juli said.

The two women then told the couple that they paid the man listed on the Craigslist ad $50 each to apply, along with another roommate, a total of $150 to the alleged scammer.

“They even filled out a rental application with the scammer, so now he has all of her personal information,” Juli said.

Juli and Lawrence searched online for the listing. Sure enough, her house was listed for rent. The couple tried calling the number linked to the post, but when the alleged scammer answered and they asked him why he listed their belongings, the man on the other end hung up.

“He’s just going to put up another listing somewhere else and get on with his life,” Lawrence said.

FOX31 also tried calling the alleged scammer a number of times and the call went to voicemail.

How to avoid Craigslist rent scams

The couple warns prospective renters that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

“They listed this as a two bedroom apartment with a significantly lower rent than other similar locations in the city,” Lawrence said.

But the couple understands why the Craigslist ad was so credible. They said the scammer pulled all the pictures and information from the Zillow ad that was originally posted when the home was up for sale in 2020.

“All of the photos from the listing are still on Zillow from two years ago, and the description they took was word for word in the Craigslist ad, so it sounds super legit,” Juli said.

The couple contacted the Denver Police Department, who they said referred them to the Fraud Division. But the couple understood that since they didn’t lose any money in the scam, they can’t press charges. FOX31 has also contacted the Denver Police Department but has not heard back.

“I mean, people get caught up in a scam. What, are you going to think I had something to do with this and show up angrily on my doorstep?” Laurentius said.

The couple warn renters not to use Craigslist to find a rental, never pay money or send personal information before seeing an apartment, and that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably does is.

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