Craigslist Housing Scam Offers Houses at Too-Good-to-Be-True Rental Rates

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This particular Craigslist housing scam offers a house for a rent that is so low that it is too good to be true – you just have to first fill out a request for a “free credit report” at The response to inquiries is canned and, in fact, has been around for a while – in our region the scam was listed under the heading “$850 / 3br – Beautiful 3 Bed, 2 Bath House”. Our sample came from “”, but it has come from other email addresses too.

After you answer the Craigslist posting, you receive this response:

First and foremost, thank you for your interest in the home. I am available to show the house this week
if that fits your schedule.

Just to give you a little more information about the home, the water, trash and garbage are paid by us. The security deposit can be paid in 2 installments if money is tight. (I know how that can be). The house has a fenced in backyard and we do allow pets. The deposit per pet is a one time payment.
The house includes a washer and dryer, and we pay for lawn care so the renter does not have to cut the grass. There is NO application fee (our company policy and guarantee).

I will be happy to show the house at an agreed upon time and date but I do require that all applicants and additional renters who will be living in the home complete a free credit report to ensure their eligibility. I have so many people apply for homes that I have to make sure they are qualified renters before I show the property.

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{Editor’s note: By now you should be getting suspicious.}

It goes on:

This ensures neither of us will be wasting our time.

It is okay if you have bad credit (trust me). We just check to make sure that you don’t have several evictions on your record. (We won’t rent if you have 3 or more evictions on your record)

{Editor’s note: By now you should be getting REALLY suspicious!}

And it continues:

I also had to recently stop giving out the exact address of rental properties before I am able to show them because last time I did that the house was vandalized (I will be glad to send you the address right after your reply) I assure you though that this is a very safe neighborhood. I actually lived in this home for 2 years (very cozy).

As soon as you can, please click and go to the secure website link below to complete the free credit report: (takes about 30 seconds) Once you complete, I’ll call you once I receive the information from the credit company (very quickly usually).

*** You don’t have to send me your credit report.
Once you fill out the report the credit company automatically forwards me your name, email address and whether you have had any outstanding evictions in the past 5 years to determine your renter eligibility. This is the only information I am interested in. This is a soft credit report so it won’t touch your FICO score (which is why we work with them).

This process turns some people off, so I completely understand if you decide not to complete them. In that case, good luck with your home search. I just want to be honest with you up front about our process, which does a good job of protecting us from ineligible renters and scammers. Also, the site above is one the safest and most secure website for credit reports in the world, which is good for peace of mind. I have worked with them personally for a couple years now.

If you are truly interested in proceeding, take a moment and fill out one of the reports. Let me know when this is done and we can then work out the time and date to go see the home. Email me back once you access your fresh report. I will be forwarded the information. (Make sure to include a valid phone number. I usually call within 6 hours of submitting your report. Then I can forward you the address and we can set up a time to tour the home.)

If eligible you will also be sent an email with my office number so we can set up a time to go see the house and discuss any other questions or concerns you may have.



Pretty scammy, eh? But it is well-designed to take a lot of people in.

And, if you don’t reply, “Carole” sends you another email:

Thank you very much for your interest in the home.

I am writing to inform you that I have selected the person to lease this house to, who I believe most closely matches and needs this house.

I appreciate you taking the time to communicate with me and wish you the best of luck in searching for a house.

This appears to be email #2 in a series of at least 3. We expect to receive a third email shortly that will tell us that the other person fell through, and giving us another opportunity to rent the house. We’ll keep you posted.

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