TARGET 8: Columbia man's Craigslist listing turns into scam
COLUMBIA - Craigslist is widely known as a place to find good deals, side gigs, and even a place to stay. But it's downfall comes in the form of fraud. Property manager Andrew Wilmore is one of the many caught in a Craigslist scam.
Wilmore said this was his first time using Craigslist to post a property listing.
He said he listed the property on a Thursday night and found out two days later someone had copied his listing, by posting the same property for a lower rent in an attempt to get rent money.
"It was essentially because some of the people I was talking with were asking about different rent amounts. I had posted it for a certain amount and the scammers posted for significantly less," Wilmore said.
He said he posted it for $1,650 and the scammers posted it for $1,050.
Wilmore said several people who were interested in the property reached out to him inquiring about the price difference. He said this is what alerted him that something wasn't right.
"So I went on Craigslist Saturday morning, found that there was a picture of my home with a description that I had written but it wasn't me. I subsequently just sent a reply asking 'Is this property still available?', and then Monday morning got an email," Wilmore said.
The email stated:
"I need your name, contact information, where you currently reside, and number of people interested in renting."
Wilmore said one interested person actually spoke with the scammer to inquire about the property.
"Talking to him on the phone, he was very pushy. She was curious about furniture in pictures, he said 'Yea, the house comes as is'. She asked about a dog that was in the photo and he said, 'Oh we'll get the dog out later today'. And essentially trying to say anything to make the deal as sweet as possible," Wilmore said.
Wilmore said he flagged the post and Craigslist took it down. He said days later the post appeared on the site again and he flagged it again.
Mike Harrison, regional director of the Mid-Missouri Better Business Bureau, said, when it comes to Craigslist, people should really do their homework.
"So, when it comes time to rent a home, look online for the owner or the landlord and make sure they are who they say they are. Especially try to meet with them face to face, make sure they're a real person and that the rental property actually exists," Harrison said.
Wilmore said, as of now, he's going to tell people to be cautious and to not trust everything they read on the Internet.
The Better Business Bureau has more tips on scams and other consumer protection issues.