Anatomy of a Craigslist Rental Scam – How to Detect Rental Scams on Craigslist

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By now, in 2018, most people know that rental scams on Craigslist abound. But how to tell a Craigslist rental scam is not as well known. Below is an example of a Craigslist rental scam. The scammer calls himself Bob Osell, claims to be renting the house located at 2237 Kay St. in Longmont, Colorado, and to be reachable at (760)2378225.

In reality, the property at 2237 Kay Street is owned by somebody completely different, and who has no knowledge that their house is the subject of this scam. That property is listed for sale with a reputable real estate agent; the MLS listing is almost certainly how the scammer found the info about this house in order to include it in the scam Craigslist post.

Example Craigslist Rental Scam Listing Post

example busting a craigslist rental scammer


 

In fact, you can tell that the scammer lifted the info from the MLS (the real estate Multiple Listing Service) listing because the description is identical, including the “coy” misspelling of “koi”, as in koi pond!

Scam Craigslist Listing with Misspelling of ‘Koi’
typo from listing busting a craigslist rental scammer

MLS Listings
how to tell craigslist rental scam misspellings


 

The primary thing which suggests that this Craigslist post is a rental scam is that the purported rental amount – $700 – is extremely low. $700 for an entire house in a tight rental market where even studio apartments are renting for at least $825 a month, and whole house rentals typically start at $1500 or so, makes little sense.

low rent busting a craigslist rental scammer

But the dead giveaway is the response elicited by an inquiry about the listing.

Here is the response from “Brian Osell”, the scammer (see below it for our explanation of its anatomy):

Hello how are you doing?

Thanks for your email,I have decided to rent the house because we are going to spend more time here in (Las Vegas, NV) my family and i will be here for about 3 years due the nature of my job. Let me start by introducing myself, I am Mr Brian and I must confess I am very new in this landlord business. However, I own the house located at (2237 Kay St, Longmont, CO 80501)Home, the initial plan was to sell the house but sometimes the Realtor inflates the price and it takes longer to sell, because of this reason we have decided to rent out the house to a responsible tenant that can take very good care of the property as we are not after the money, we want it to be clean and tidy at all time. Pets are allowed as long as they are not destructive. The rent is $700 and security deposit is $800 and move in to the home asap, free to text me here (760)2378225 i will be happy to get back to you anytime and i also check my email often so feel free to contact me via email or text message for any further inquiries. You can drive-by to view the outside and neighborhood of the house and get back to me asap.

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Anatomy of a Craigslist Rental Scam – How to Detect Rental Scams on Craigslist

DETAILS ABOUT THE HOUSE.
ADDRESS: (2237 Kay St, Longmont, CO 80501)
Number of bedrooms:3
Number of bathrooms:2
Rental price: $700 per month and security Deposit is $800 (Security Deposit is Refundable) Utilities included in monthly rent Pets Welcome.

****RENTAL QUESTIONNAIRE*****

If you are really interested in renting my home then answer the rental application questions below.
Name (First name/ Middle name/Surname ) : __________?
Phone numbers (home,cell and office line ) # :__________?
Marital Status:__________?
How many proposed occupants :__________?
List all in addition to yourself including approx age :__________?
Present Address :__________?
Will you have pets :__________?
Please describe Breed, size :__________?
Personality of pet :__________?
Preferred move in date :__________?
Intended length of lease:__________?
Do you agree to pay the payment before you move in:__________?
If you are ask to make a down payment to secure the house and take it off market today, How much will you be able to pay:__________?
Length of previous tenancy :__________?
Present occupation :__________?
Are you a section 8 applicant Do you work late night :__________?
Do you smoke :__________? Do you drink :__________?

I ___________________, CERTIFY that answers given here in are true and complete to the best of my knowledge. I authorize investigation of all statements contained in this application for tenant screening as may be necessary in arriving at a tenant decision. I understand that the landlord may terminate any rental agreement entered into for any misrepresentation made above.I will be looking forward to hearing back from you with all this detail, so that i can have them in my file in case of issuing your rent payment receipt to you and for contacting you. Your quick response will be highly appreciated, so that we can discuss on how to get the documents and the keys of my property to you via Express Delivery Services.

free to text me here (760)2378225 i will be happy to get back to you anytime

Mr Brian Osell

 

Anatomy of a Craigslist Rental Scam

how to tell a craigslist scam posting

There are several ‘tells’ in this response that tell you that it is a scam.

For one thing, the sentence is poorly constructed, including spacing between punctuation and words, the use of ‘Mr. Brian’ (in other words the use of Mr. coupled with a first name (the same would be true for Miss or Mrs.), inappropriate use of capitalization (or inappropriate lack of capitalization) and the odd presentation of the telephone number.

In this particular case, however, the biggest clue of all is in the odd parenthetical fragments; you can see that both the location where the scammer claims to reside (Las Vegas, NV), and the address of the house that they are claiming to rent, are in parenthesis, which not only is odd, but it tells you that this is a form that has been provided to the scammer, and they are supposed to fill in the location of where they claim to be, and the address of the property that they are using in the scam. In this case, the scammer even left in the hint provided in the form (“HOME”)!

When looking at rental listings on Craigslists, it’s always best to do your research, and to always listen to your gut. If something just seems ‘off’, if your spidey sense starts tingling, listen to it.

P.S. After writing this article we contacted Craigslist about the fraudulent post, and now when you go to see that listing, instead of the info about the house, this is the result:

craigslist posting post listing flagged for removal

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Anatomy of a Craigslist Rental Scam – How to Detect Rental Scams on Craigslist

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5 Replies to “Anatomy of a Craigslist Rental Scam – How to Detect Rental Scams on Craigslist”

  1. I have an ad up on Craigslist looking for a place in a specific town. Someone emails me and says they have what I’m looking for, gives a real address and I google it, yep, its a real apartment building. After chatting, I am instructed to mail cash for the rent to an apartment in Florida – when the “owner” is renting his “flat” in Texas, and supposedly was retiring back to his hometown in Michigan. First the rent is listed at $325, then later something was said about tell them how much money I’m sending. I said I forgot the rent, what did you tell me, $600 and a deposit. They said yes. I smiled.

    I’ve been playing a game, said I will send cash rent and deposit, about $1200, by next day delivery mail. I then called the apartment managers in Florida to tell them one of their tenants is running a scam. I don’t know if that will do anything.

    I strung this along for almost a week now, delaying going to the post office, then making up an excuse about flooding in this area delaying mail delivery, then ignoring their requests for the postal mailing receipt by next day mail, their posts have stepped up in nagging about the money, along with religious content posted. First request was for the FedEx tracking number, but they told me to mail it. Yeah.

    I will probably tell them tomorrow I’m tired of their nagging about the money, I’ve called the post office and put a stop delivery hold on the envelope, and I’ll rent to someone else.

    LOL.

  2. just got this word for word from a post in St. Louis. So dumb they don’t even change the wording…..

    Hello how are you doing?

    Thanks for your email,I have decided to rent the house because we are going to spend more time here in (Phoenix, AZ) my family and i will be here for about 3 years due the nature of my job. Let me start by introducing myself, I am Mr James and I must confess I am very new in this landlord business. However, I own the house located at (341 Spring Ave,Saint Louis, MO 63119)Home, the initial plan was to sell the house but sometimes the Realtor inflates the price and it takes longer to sell, because of this reason we have decided to rent out the house to a responsible tenant that can take very good care of the property as we are not after the money, we want it to be clean and tidy at all time. Pets are allowed as long as they are not destructive. The rent is $700 and security deposit is $1000 and move in to the home asap, free to text me here (760)2378225 i will be happy to get back to you anytime and i also check my email often so feel free to contact me via email or text message for any further inquiries. You can drive-by to view the outside and neighborhood of the house and get back to me asap.

    DETAILS ABOUT THE HOUSE.

    ADDRESS: (341 Spring Ave,Saint Louis, MO 63119)

    Number of bedrooms:2

    Number of bathrooms:1

    Rental price: $700 per month and security Deposit is $1000 (Security Deposit is Refundable) Utilities included in monthly rent Pets Welcome.

    ****RENTAL QUESTIONNAIRE*****

    If you are really interested in renting my home then answer the rental application questions below.

    Name (First name/ Middle name/Surname ) : __________?

    Phone numbers (home,cell and office line ) # :__________?

    Marital Status:__________?

    How many proposed occupants :__________?

    List all in addition to yourself including approx age :__________?

    Present Address :__________?

    Will you have pets :__________?

    Please describe Breed, size :__________?

    Personality of pet :__________?

    Preferred move in date :__________?

    Intended length of lease:__________?

    Do you agree to pay the payment before you move in:__________?

    If you are ask to make a down payment to secure the house and take it off market today, How much will you be able to pay:__________?

    Length of previous tenancy :__________?

    Present occupation :__________?

    Are you a section 8 applicant Do you work late night :__________?

    Do you smoke :__________? Do you drink :__________?

    I ___________________, CERTIFY that answers given here in are true and complete to the best of my knowledge. I authorize investigation of all statements contained in this application for tenant screening as may be necessary in arriving at a tenant decision. I understand that the landlord may terminate any rental agreement entered into for any misrepresentation made above.I will be looking forward to hearing back from you with all this detail, so that i can have them in my file in case of issuing your rent payment receipt to you and for contacting you. Your quick response will be highly appreciated, so that we can discuss on how to get the documents and the keys of my property to you via Express Delivery Services.

    free to text me here (760)2378225 i will be happy to get back to you anytime

    Mr James Raymond

  3. I just got the same messages from “Mr. Rodriguez” even to the point that he sent an agreement signed by himself and a “lawyer” to send the keys, signed with only first names. When I text and asked for a picture of his ID he sent me pictures of his family. After l searched for any sign of him or his lawyer online, I knew something was wrong. Glad I followed my gut! Thanks for posting that email message.

  4. Ha! I just encountered my first rental scam and thank goodness I was smart enough to know “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” I got this exact same e-mail response and I knew then and there it was likely to be a scam. Rent was supposedly $1000, but the house came up for sale on multiple sites for over $350k.

    INITIAL E-MAIL

    Thanks for your interest and inquiries about my house. Yes the house is still available for rent and we are looking for a responsible person/family to occupy and maintain the house now that we are not around I just moved to (MISSOURI) due to my job transfer, we will be here for 4 to 5 years. My initial plan was to sell the house but I find it difficult to let go this adorable home, I have decided to rent home to a responsible tenant who is willing to take very good care of it in our absence. Pets are allowed as long as they are not destructive. all the utilities are included in the monthly rent,as i am in a governmental programmer that sponsors my utilities on monthly basis and pets are also allowed.Here is the number to text me because of my hearing condition and i also check my email often. Feel free to contact me via email or text for further inquiries :(573)684-3733 .You can drive-by to view the outside and neighborhood of the house.
    Also how long do you intend to stay? How soon do you intend to move in?

    FEATURES : Laundry, Electric Range, Electric Heat, Master Bedroom, Playground, Car Park.AMENITIES: Air Conditioning, Patio/Party Deck, Cable TV, Ceiling Fans, 24 hours Internet service, Dishwasher, Fire pit, Garbage Disposal, Microwave, security alarm, Pets Friendly, Refrigerator, Washer / Dryer.

    General house description:
    Square Feet:1,536 sqft
    Address: 35434 Douglas Ln Yucaipa, CA 92399
    Bedroom:3
    Bathroom:2
    Monthly Rent:$1000
    Security Deposit: $1000
    Total move in cost:$2000
    Pet Acceptable with pet deposit($50) in as much as they are not destructive
    Utilities are included in the rent.
    There is also high speed wireless internet access.

    Get back to me so i can forward you the rental application form i would want you to fill out and also do get back to me asap with your picture as well so i can know whom i am renting my house to.

    Contact me anytime (573)684-3733

    Regards
    Mr Rodriquez & Family

    SECOND E-MAIL ONCE I ASKED FOR MORE DETAILS

    Below are some questions I need you to answer so we can discuss further, it is available for a long lease. Get back to me for further discussion on how to get the keys and paperwork of the property to you if I find you suitable and decide to rent the property to you..

    RENT QUESTIONNAIRE
    Attach Picture Of Your Driving License?/Card Details If Available
    Name (First name/ Middle name/Surname ) : __________?
    Phone numbers (home,cell and office line ) # :__________?
    Marital Status:__________?
    How many proposed occupants :__________?
    List all in addition to yourself including approx age :__________?
    Present Address :__________?
    Will you have pets :__________?
    Please describe Breed, size :__________?
    Personality of pet :__________?
    When do you plan to move in, please write exact date?
    Intended length of lease:__________?
    Do you agree to pay the payment before you move in:__________?
    If you are ask to make a down payment to secure the house today and take it off market, How much will you be able to pay:__________?
    Length of previous tenancy :__________?
    Present occupation :__________?
    Are you a section 8 applicant
    Do you work late night :__________?
    Do you smoke :__________?
    Do you drink :__________?

    I ___________________, Certify that answers given herein are true and complete to the best of my knowledge. I authorize investigation of all statements contained in this application for tenant screening as may be necessary in arriving at a tenant decision. I understand that the landlord may terminate any rental agreement entered into for any misrepresentation made above.

    Looking forward to hearing from you with all these details so that I can have it in my file in case of issuing the receipt and contacting you. Await your reply so we can discuss on how to get the document and the key to you.

    Contact me anytime (573) 684-3733

    Regards
    Mr Rodriquez & Family

    Below are some questions I need you to answer so we can discuss further, it is available for a long lease. Get back to me for further discussion on how to get the keys and paperwork of the property to you if I find you suitable and decide to rent the property to you..

    RENT QUESTIONNAIRE
    Attach Picture Of Your Driving License?/Card Details If Available
    Name (First name/ Middle name/Surname ) : __________?
    Phone numbers (home,cell and office line ) # :__________?
    Marital Status:__________?
    How many proposed occupants :__________?
    List all in addition to yourself including approx age :__________?
    Present Address :__________?
    Will you have pets :__________?
    Please describe Breed, size :__________?
    Personality of pet :__________?
    When do you plan to move in, please write exact date?
    Intended length of lease:__________?
    Do you agree to pay the payment before you move in:__________?
    If you are ask to make a down payment to secure the house today and take it off market, How much will you be able to pay:__________?
    Length of previous tenancy :__________?
    Present occupation :__________?
    Are you a section 8 applicant
    Do you work late night :__________?
    Do you smoke :__________?
    Do you drink :__________?

    I ___________________, Certify that answers given herein are true and complete to the best of my knowledge. I authorize investigation of all statements contained in this application for tenant screening as may be necessary in arriving at a tenant decision. I understand that the landlord may terminate any rental agreement entered into for any misrepresentation made above.

    Looking forward to hearing from you with all these details so that I can have it in my file in case of issuing the receipt and contacting you. Await your reply so we can discuss on how to get the document and the key to you.

    Contact me anytime (573) 684-3733

    Regards
    Mr Rodriquez & Family

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