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Warning about online real estate listings and scams

Bad things happening to good people

craigslist scam alertSince the dawn of time, there has been string after string of real estate or mortgage scams and it’s a shame that the actions of the few impact the many.

Recently, the Texas Real Estate Commission put out a warning about a group based in Dallas that is scamming renters by posting ads online of properties that they have no authority over and scamming potential renters out of money.

This particular group is taking application fees and deposits on properties and pocketing them. These individuals are not licensed through the Texas Real Estate Commission which is required to legally transact in the state of Texas (just like in any other state).

There have been many horror stories stemming from Craigslist, have you heard of others representing themselves as real estate professionals? Tell us about any other scam warnings you’re aware of in comments.

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Danny @ Tampa Real Estate

    April 8, 2010 at 9:26 am

    These scams have been going on for years. Most of them are done by scammers outside the country but recently have noticed more local people participating in these scams. They also seem to be more and more nowadays.

    We had to recently stop advertising in Craigslist because of some situations, it is really sad people have to resort to ripping people off.

  2. Jonathan Benya

    April 8, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    I’ve had people call me several times regarding scams like this. Most often it’s with the vacant homes I have listed for sale/rent. I can’t believe that people would actually send money for a rental, sight unseen. You know the old addage: if it looks to good to be true…

  3. Bruce

    April 8, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    All good comments and an interesting post.
    Some of my clients have forbid me from posting their properties on Craigslist. That’s to bad because it gets a lot of exposure. Buyers are still shopping there.
    Bottom line, beware when dealing with people you don’t know. That’s like responding to an email requesting you to update your personal information like user id and password. Delete those emails and never send money to secure a rental property. As the above commenter mentioned, do some research before you enter into any agreement, not afterwards.

  4. Nashville Grant

    April 8, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    Ah yes, the Nigerian scam. This scam is WAY more prevalent that you may know. I actually own a residential property management company as well and we have counted more than 30 posts a day on Craigslist alone in just our market that are these type of scams. NEVER pay anything online, always sign your lease agreement at a management office AFTER you have seen the property.

  5. Erica Ramus

    April 8, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    Two of my properties were hit by scams on Craigslist last month. The perpetrators took my photos and descriptions, searched the public records to find the owner’s name, then created a yahoo account based on the names so it LOOKED LEGIT. Then they posted the houses were for rent.

    When renters showed up they could not believe the price. The email told them to mail a deposit or wire to to Western Union and the keys would be sent to the tenant.

    How gullible are you, people?

  6. VickiMoore

    April 17, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    Hey San Mateo people this craigslist scam is happening here too. Scammers changing locks on vacant houses.

  7. Martha Longhi

    April 18, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    #SanMateoCounty renters Beware! craigslist scam happening here 2! Scammers on the rise! B careful. #realestate

  8. GB

    April 18, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    renters Beware! craigslist scam happening here 2! Scammers on the rise! B careful. #realestate (via @MRVL44)

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