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Brighton woman falls victim to Craigslist renting scam

Posted at: 04/09/2013 5:05 PM
Updated at: 04/09/2013 5:46 PM
By: Christine VanTimmeren

A family in Brighton falls victim to a Craigslist scam. Their home was put up for rent and potential tenants started showing up.

News10NBC spoke with the homeowner and she says she is still trying to get that Craigslist post removed.

Judy Messenger got quite a shock Monday when a man knocked on her door asking if her home was still available to rent. He said he saw the posting on Craigslist. It caught her completely off guard because she's still unpacking from moving in two months ago.

So she went to check the posting out and she found a $700 a month posting to rent her home. Messenger lives on Westfall Road in Brighton, so her nearly 2,000 square foot house available to rent for $700 is a pretty good deal. She immediately contacted Brighton Police, who say this isn't the first scam of this kind they've seen.

Messenger actually sent an email to the person who posted her home on Craigslist and she got a generic response back telling her to "drive by the house anytime and peek through the windows.” It also says the homeowner decided to rent out the property because they are doing mission work in west Africa.

Messenger had never heard of anything like this before and she believes she was a victim because the home was recently for sale and pictures were online.

Judy Messenger, homeowner said, “I did want to alert people that it is possible and if you own a house or are buying a house or looking to rent a house that you might want to just be aware and look closely into any posting you see.”

In the email response Judy got from the person who put her home up for rent, there was a phone number in Nigeria. News10NBC called that number and the man that answered said he did indeed was renting that home.

When we told him we talked with the homeowner and she wants to know why he's posting her home on Craigslist, he hung up.

If something like this has happened to you or if you fell victim to an internet scam like this, the best way to report it is to go online. To report an online scam, click here.

Tips to prevent this from happening

In this case, the people who wanted to rent Messenger's home actually went to the home before paying any money. While that worked in their favor, News10NBC did talk with a local realtor who said she really doesn't recommend actually going to the house. She says if you are suspicious, call a realtor and ask them to look up information about the property.

Also, she said when the Craigslist poster asks for money up front, that's a dead giveaway that something is not right.