More victims share rental property scam warnings

Most properties on Craigslist legitimate; but buyer beware


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After telling the story of one woman who was evicted from a home she thought she had legally rented through a contact made on Craigslst, News4Jax has heard from others in the area who've had experience with similar real estate scams.

On Craigslist, you will find thousands of real estate listings. Many are legitimate and offer good deals. But be aware that people impersonating property owners are also listing properties on Craigslist.

All of Aniger Bryant belongings were put on the curb of the Westside home she thought she had paid $2,000 to rent. Someone used the real owner's name to rent her the property, but kept her money.

In the eviction, Bryant said she lost all of her children's belonging and Christmas gifts.

Since telling Bryant's story Thursday night, we've heard from others who were also ripped off -- or almost were -- by people posting properties on Craigslist.

"He said that he wasn't working with any Realtor," said Melinee Calhoun, "Prior to that, (he) claimed that he stopped working with them because they were price-gouging unit(s).

Calhoun is thankful she realized she was being scammed by a man using the name of the property owner before she handed over any money.

"I responded to him as (if) I didn't have any qualms, wanted to see how far he would take it," Calhoun said. "Basically, at that point, he responded to me and said, 'Well, I'm not working any Realtor.' He said if you respond to any Realtor, you do that at your own risk. And he said that in bold print."

Calhoun even put a warning out on Craigslist, letting people know if that see that home for rent, it's a scam.

MORE ONLINE: Tips to avoid being a victim of a rental-property scam

Thousands legitimately use Craigslist to post/find rental property. Even Realtors.

"You can actually find great deals on Craigslist," said Realtor David Elian. "Many Realtors will advertise properties on Craigslist, but don't do (it) without (a) Realtor."

Elian suggested not agreeing to meet someone claiming to be a property owner at the house, but at their office or a neutral site so you can determine if the person is legitimate. He also suggests bringing a Realtor or attorney to review the potential lease.

"If they are legitimate they won't mind meeting with Realtor at all," Elian said. "The seller of the house, if they are scamming you, they will not want to meet with a Realtor at all."


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