Rental Scams Hit the Twin Ports

Posted at: 04/24/2013 5:25 PM
Updated at: 04/24/2013 5:35 PM
By: Travis Dill

Apartment rentals are tight in the Twin Ports, and scam artists are cashing in with fake listings online.

Craigslist, an online classified ad site, is a hot spot to advertise rental properties according to Realtors, but a swarm of fake ads are swindling some people of their first month's rent.

Most legitimate listings have pictures and other information posted online. Realtor Nick Christensen said scam artists twist that information into fake ads.

“They'll simply go there copy the images or the pictures of the listing and then they'll make up their own descriptions and story,” Christensen said.

He said that makes the foreign scams look real, and the fake stories are creative.

“They were portraying the owner of the property having moved down to Texas doing missionary work, helping the needy. It was a very tug at your heartstrings story,” Christensen said.

Stories like that have some people wiring money across the country or even the world. Christensen said there is an easy way to protect yourself. 

“I have a little rule that I go by where if I can't talk to you on the phone or meet you face to face I'm just not going to deal with you,” Christensen said.

Craigslist also warns to only deal locally and to never wire money. Superior Police said they've seen the fake ads, and Christensen said there are more in Duluth within the last few weeks.

Superior police said most of these scams originate outside of the country, and there is not much they can do after the money is wired.