Would-be home renters in the area are warned to be on the lookout for a scam involving fraudulent postings on Craigslist, listing homes for sale in the area as for rent, sheriff’s Lt. David Mattingly said Wednesday.
Mattingly said the perpetrators of the scam take information and photos from real estate websites and create their own listing, passing the home off as for rent. After receiving a deposit and first month’s rent in the mail, the lister will allegedly send the keys to the house.
Mattingly said there have been a few instances of this scam in Wichita.
Wichita police Sgt. Charles Newman said reports of this scam in Wichita are infrequent.
“I’ve been here since December and I’d say I’ve seen about three,” Newman said. “Now, that doesn’t account for the people who’ve never called us, and that’s probably a low number.”
He said it is hard for police to track down the scammers because most are from overseas and change their contact numbers multiple times every day, he said.
“It’s very frustrating for us,” Newman said.
Mattingly’s advice for people searching for homes on Craigslist or other sites: If it seems suspicious, it probably is.
“Do not send people money in the mail,” he said. “Try to make your contact with vendors in person. Take a friend if you want to. Just use common sense.”
If home sellers find their property falsely listed on the site, Mattingly said there is little they can do other than report it to the financial crimes section of the Wichita Police Department or call 911. The sole victim in these cases, he said, is the person writing the check to the lister.
“Why would you rent a house without meeting somebody at that property to view the structure inside?” Mattingly said. “To me this is something that doesn’t sound right at all.”