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
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’
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.
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.
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.
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 ) # :__________?
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
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:
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