JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Potential renters, looking at a house in Sawgrass Players Club, were led to believe that the person they were talking to actually owned the house.
The three-bedroom house for rent is being managed by Ponte Vedra Beach Realty. "I've had a few Craigslist things happen in the past, but nothing to this extent," said Lindsey Godfrey, the actual landlord.
ON YOUR SIDE
The house for rent is listed by Ponte Vedra Beach Realty on several websites including Craigslist, but then someone saw the listing on Craigslist and created a new ad on the web site claiming he was the owner.
"They were asking for security deposits up front, and pet deposits," said Godfrey.
Potential renters were told via email the rent was reduced from $2,000 to $1,200 month and to send their money to someone other than the realtor. Godfrey said it was all bogus.
"It is not the first time a Craigslist scam or issue has come up in the rental market," she said.
It is a first for the house's owner Steve Protz. Protz, reached in Atlanta, said he discovered his Florida vacation home was a pawn in the scheme when neighbors called him.
"I was shock," said Protz.
"Prospective renters were told via email to go look at the house, walk around... look in the windows and if you like it, get back to him for a rental agreement."
Ponte Vedra Beach Realty caught the scheme early enough to protect potential renters. "We decided to take his listing off Craigslist because of this issue," said Godfrey.
In this rental market do your research on the property and property owner before sending money sight unseen.
Property manager Godfrey said you may want to go a step further. "I would recommend meeting someone in person before sending money," said Godfrey.
We sent an email to the person who claimed to be the landlord of the property and it was returned undeliverable.
Craigslist is never a part of a transaction nor offers buyer and seller protection. The community website, however, has posted warnings to every user to avoid scams.
Here's an On Your Side consumer tip:
- Deal locally with folks you can meet in person.
- Never wire funds to anyone who asks you to.
- Do not rent housing or purchase expensive items site- unseen - in all likelihood that housing unit is not actually for rent or that cheap item does not exist.
First Coast News