Rental scam snares, scares Raleigh homeowner
Posted May 2, 2013
Updated May 3, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — How scary would it be to suddenly see someone peering into the windows of your home? That's what happened to a Raleigh man as a result of a common home rental scam.
After 10 years living in Raleigh's Mordecai neighborhood, Tim McInerney put his two-bedroom bungalow up for sale.
He is proud of the work he has done to fix it up. "I put granite in the kitchen, new appliances, a new floor," McInerney said. "I painted the entire exterior of the house."
The surprise came when McInerney started getting inquiries from people who wanted to rent.
Someone had copied McInerney's listing, pictures and all, and posted the house for rent at a bargain price of $790 per month, including utilities! The scammer even created an email address with McInerney's name.
"At first I was shocked," he said. "Then I got very angry."
McInerney emailed the address, posing as a potential renter, and got a convincing reply from "Reverend" Timothy.
"He is doing missionary, religious work in New York state. He can't be here so he wants to rent out the house for the next year," McInerney said.
To get the keys, the false landlord asked for a "fully refundable" $790 deposit. Some rentals on Craigslist are scams
For a look inside, the ad invited people to "have a peek through the windows." At least one woman did.
"I have three dogs, and they were barking a lot, and I got out of the shower and as I walked through the hallway and kind of peered around the corner, I saw a woman looking through my kitchen window," McInerney said. "It was very creepy. It was very, very creepy."
Craigslist told McInerney the only thing he could do is flag postings as they come up. He's aware of more than 20 so far! He just wants to warn others.
"Just be careful about who you deal with on Craigslist or any other Internet sources. Make sure you meet the people in person. Do a background check or look into who they are," he suggests.
When Five On Your Side called the phone number provided in the ad – the area code was out of Denver – no one answered. Usually these scams ultimately involve sending money overseas. Trusting people have lost hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars.