5 On Your Side

Rental scam snares, scares Raleigh homeowner

Posted May 2, 2013
Updated May 3, 2013

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— 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. Craigslist 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.

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  • HomeBrewDude May 9, 2013

    This happened to me too. Btw, do not be fooled by the location of the phone number by area code. There are many VOiP services out there we users overseas can have a domestic number. Area code is irrelevant anymore.

  • Whatev333 May 3, 2013

    I recently had to sign a new lease. At lest 35% of the ads listed on Craigslist were scams... maybe even more. Incredibly low rent. Photos from the outside of a house only. Also the "Rent To Own" which I talked to an actual realtor about. They do "contracts" that are completely one sided. Although I wanted to rent from a person instead of a company... I did much much much better driving around and writing down numbers. Also several websites that will give you the low down on different landlords helped too. DO NOT USE CRAIGSLIST unless you are desperate.

  • hazeyc May 3, 2013

    Those scammers do it to almost all the Real Estate listings these days. If it's too good to be true - it's a scam.

  • Holy Carp. May 3, 2013

    ""Good thing this homeowner wasn't a CCW holder or that lady looking through his front window might not be with us today." -Obamacare survives

    first, being a CCW holder has nothing to do with possessing a gun in your home for defense purposes. second, can you point to any actual situations that have occurred that would suggest that ccw holders are trigger happy and would have shot the lady?" golorealist

    Golorealist- I'd take anything this poster has to say with a grain of salt. I'll be lucky if this makes through as a post.

  • elkerster May 3, 2013

    Here's the thing if you are on craigslist or anything site like it and see an add that says you'll get the keys to take a look after they receive the deposit especially if the person it out of state- than it's a scam.

  • golorealist May 3, 2013

    "Good thing this homeowner wasn't a CCW holder or that lady looking through his front window might not be with us today." -Obamacare survives

    first, being a CCW holder has nothing to do with possessing a gun in your home for defense purposes. second, can you point to any actual situations that have occurred that would suggest that ccw holders are trigger happy and would have shot the lady?

  • Obamacare survives May 3, 2013

    Good thing this homeowner wasn't a CCW holder or that lady looking through his front window might not be with us today.

  • Billy the Kid May 2, 2013

    These scams exist because they work. If it's too good to be true....uh it is!

  • bryonwilliams May 2, 2013

    This scam is one of the most popular used by scammer/thieves. As mentioned in the story a renter needs to meet the Landlord face to face. You always should be able to see the inside of the home/apt/condo. Never send money via Western Union or Money Gram to anyone you never met personally. This type of scam is mostly ran out of West Africa. Occasionally Malaysia or UK. In majority the phone numbers are Magic Jacks, Google Voice, VOIP etc. Some scammer will use a UK re-direct +4470 or +44070 these numbers can be answered any where in the world.

    More information on Rental Scams can be found here. http://www.scamwarners.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=39&t=12278

    Please visit scamwarners.com
    Bryon W.

  • wanderer May 2, 2013

    Yeah, like non-Nigerians have never done the same thing. It doesn't matter who they are or where they are from. A criminal is a criminal.