Beware of Internet Rental Scams -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Beware of internet rental scams

Dr. Van Knowles Dr. Van Knowles

An Albany man discovered his home listed for rent on Craigslist, but he didn't put it there.  Dougherty County Sheriff's Investigators say this is a growing scam that could have dozens, even hundreds of victims. 

"This was one of our living areas.  And our other main living area was this nice little glass porch," said Dr. Van Knowles.  he proudly put his longtime Albany home up for sale early last week. Three days later a woman drove up, saying she had seen a rental ad for it on Craigslist.

"And sure enough, there was my home with all the pictures that Patsy Martin from Walden and Kirkland had put up for us to advertise the house for sale.  And they had been plagiarized and put on a Craigslist listing," Knowles said.

The ad said the 3,600 square foot, 4 bedroom, 3 bath home with giant sunroom was renting for $700 a month.  A bargain sure to get responses.

"It's a scam.  It's an old real estate scam that goes way back.  But it's just a new innovation on it," Dougherty Co. Sheriff's Captain Craig Dodd said.

Scammers get pictures from a realtor's internet site, and use them to post their own internet ad, offering a great home for a low price.  They then collect a month or two's rent for a deposit before the renter knows they have been scammed. Investigators say the number of potential victims is staggering.

Dodd said "Plenty of people in the area looking for a really nice house at a good price.  See that and see the location.  You could have a lot of folks."

Knowles doesn't want people to lose their money. "I would warn anyone that uses that listing to make absolutely sure it's legitimate before they, particularly put any money down."

Dougherty County Sheriff's Investigators are tracking I. P. addresses and phone numbers from the listing.  That ad has been taken off Craigslist.

Investigators say people should use reputable realtors when renting property online, and always be cautious when you see something too good to be true on line.


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