“Can someone please explain this scam on Craigslist”

Photo by PoPville flickr user angela n.

“Dear PoPville,

I have been trying to help a friend find an apartment and have been monitoring Craigslist for her.

To several ads that either she or I have responded to, we have gotten the identical response –


I hope everything is good. I’m glad to tell you that the apartment is still available. We thought we had the place leased to a couple that we gave a tour to today, but now it seems that they changed their mind, so we need to rent it as soon as possible. You were the second one to show interest about it.

I bet you will want to do a walkthrough of the property, but my husband doesn’t want me to advertise the address as a measure of safety. Last time we did that without being diligent, the empty property was broken into and vandalized. We don’t want that to happen again! You will be responsible for cable, internet, and phone, if you decide to have these services. Just to confirm, we DO allow pets at this property. The rental term is one year, but can be switched into a half year lease if preferred. We require one month notice before moving out, as a courtesy.

If you want us to schedule you for a tour, then please visit the link below and get your free score. We recommend this site because all of our tenants used it and never had any problems. All you need to do is fill out the form and you get your score We are not concerned with any negative marks, it’s more of a formality to have it on file, to make sure there are no previous property related issues. You can get it for free at CLICK HERE

Remember, we only need to see the page about the rental history. That’s all we need to see at the showing. We’ll also waive your security deposit if we see that your rating is above 560+.

Once you let me know that you have your credit history ready, then I’ll personally schedule a showing of the place. I know that you’ll love it!

Thank you!

Sometimes the response is signed by Anne Woods, sometimes by Catherine Long. The first time this response came back, my friend did what was requested and then never heard back again. What is it that these people do with this information? . . . . And, what can be done to stop this kind of scam from going on? Notifying Craigslist would not seem to do much as the ads themselves are written so differently in terms of language that it would be hard to tell a valid one from a legitimate one.”

Gotta be using the information gathered for identity theft, right?

27 Comment

  • What was the link/site for the free score?

    • Prince Of Petworth

      “What’s the scam? It’s quite possible that the “landlord” was just an affiliate of the free credit report website where you ordered your credit report. Affiliates have financial relationships with certain businesses and websites and earn money anytime users sign up for a product or service. Remember that free credit report link you clicked on? It probably included the “landlord’s” affiliate ID number which allowed him to get paid for your free credit report. The “landlord” is richer and you’re stuck trying to figure out how to get the charges off your credit card statement.”

      • The only problem with that explanation is that I have over the last few years received that exact form letter from both of those ladies for about 10 different “properties.” It’s definitely a scam of some kind.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      Interesting, I hadn’t heard of this one.

  • I don’t know what’s on the “CLICK HERE” page but if it’s purportedly to let someone know about your credit history it probably asks for credit information which would then be stolen and used.

    So, my guess is that the apartment itself isn’t a scam (like getting you to pay for rent for a place they don’t actually own) but the apartment is fictional and the scam is sending you to that page.

  • Seems like click bait for some random website. You see the ads on the site when you go there, the owners make money. This is just a really complicated way to get people to your website.

    But yeah, more than likely it’s a credit scam site. If your friend put in all her personal info, including address, SS# or whatever else required to get a credit score, she’s probably screwed. She better start monitoring her credit.

    Maybe report the credit website to the DC Police division of fiancial and cyber crimes.

  • This scam is no different from the one where the owners are out of the country and unable to show the inside, but if you send them money they will have someone meet you at the property.
    This is like a phishing scheme; you click the link and the host site collects personal information from your computer and distributes identifying information to someone else who sells it. You should notice in a couple of months emails sent from your account without your consent or knowledge. Sad but true.

  • This happened to me last month looking for apts on CL. But- the apartments always seemed a little (not a lot) too good to be true. Plus- they don’t want to show it? Sketch. Sorry this happened to your friend, but the bottom line is that CL is not a good place for the trusting.

  • Yikes! As a landlord I would never ask for a credit report before even showing the apartment. I would also never provide a link. I use an independent service and have potential renters fill out an application with does include SS number. However, I only send the application to the potential renter once he or she has seen the apartment and expressed interest in moving forward and signing the lease.

    • +1 on “As a landlord I would never ask for a credit report before even showing the apartment.” I’ve now used SmartMove (run by TransUnion) twice, and the prospective tenants don’t even have to give me their SSNs.
      This is a new (to me, anyway) and sneaky move, and I can see how it might ensnare prospective renters who wouldn’t fall for the typical wire-transfer/overpayment scam.

  • Glad this made it to PoP. When my roommate and I were looking for an apartment back in February we got this same response. The ad seemed pretty legitimate, but the response was odd enough that we never responded. Glad to have it confirmed as a scam.

  • Always google the same property address on the craigslist listing, if you find another post for it with a different price it’s a scam. It’s a shame there’s no really reputable source that vets it’s apartment listings, but you know if the price is too good to be true, and if the property owner makes excuses on why they can’t show the place that it’s probably a fake ad.

  • Another full blown reason to really proceed with caution with contacting and giving out your personal information over the world wide web. Criagslist does little, if nothing at all, with pre-screening non legit entities. Is the site guilty of farming your valuable information? Oh yes and does ANYONE do anything about it, uh, no….’Craigslist’ used by any and everyone good, bad and inbetween.

    • The thing is, there ARE real, legit credit-report sites (like TransUnion’s SmartMove) that ask for your personal information online. I had never heard of SmartMove until someone mentioned it on PoPville, though I had heard of TransUnion.
      I guess the main lesson here is to beware of listings that ask for weird things PRIOR to showing the unit, or excuses as to why the unit can’t be shown.

  • justinbc

    How to prevent this? My advice is that anytime a property owner wants you to jump through some outlandish hoop in order to secure the property, take a pass and move on to the next one. Even if they weren’t legitimately trying to scam you you’ll probably still save yourself a few headaches.

  • When will people learn to never give their personal information to random websites? It’s common sense.

  • This happened to me back in March! I didn’t respond, but it was really difficult to tell if it was a scam or not. Something just felt off.

  • Information used in a credit check can also be used for identity theft. Always look for https and cease all contact if you get the same form response like that.

  • Zillow is FULL of these.

  • If you get this response from a “landlord,” go back to the CL listing and flag/report it as prohibited for any of the following reasons: false, misleading, deceptive, or fraudulent content; bait and switch; postings or email the primary purpose of which is to drive traffic to a website; postings or email offering, promoting, or linking to unsolicited products or services. I don’t even think the scammers are local. If they get enough reports about postings from the same ISPs, email addresses, etc., they can start to block posts before they even go up.

  • I encountered this scam back in May. It is intended to collect personal information for identity theft. Typically the properties are listed at lower rents than they would truly be rented for – to make it more attrative to apply. I lucked out because my boyfriend somehow knew the real owner of the address listed and contacted him directly to ask about the credit check. The landlord had NO idea the place was listed. I know he contacted craigslist to report the scam but am not certain what else was done.

  • Please report these scams to the FTC. If enough people report it (and it doesn’t take alot), then the government (federal or state) may try to shut down the scam. The complaint form is online and very easy to fill out. https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

  • Aside from the suspicious content of the message, no one has commented on how the email was written. My experience has been that when the quality of the english used in the post is poor (or sometimes too formal even), it is usually a scam. And I know that sounds kind of racist, as if I am saying that foreign people poor english skills can’t own and thus rent properties. I am am sure there are plenty of them. But if you combine any two of these elements; hoops, bad english, excuses. Then most likely you are dealing with a scam. Now I was scammed once with no red flags (The person I gave my deposit to was actually the renter (not the owner), who was herself it turned out 3 months behind on the rent, and getting evicted, but she was posing as the owner). So the moral is always be super vigilant, and if something smells the least bit fishy it likely is.

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