Craigslist scam targeting Madison home rentals

Consumer Protection officials advise taking care online
Craigslist scam targeting Madison home rentals

A Craigslist scam is targeting some Madison homeowners who have put their houses on the market.

The scam appears to be involving home rentals, WISC-TV reported.

Madison resident Jeanne Erickson said that she was on Craigslist and responded to an ad for a home for rent and things just started not adding up. She had spotted an East Side home for rent on a Craigslist ad. She said she thought her search was over.

“It’s adorable. It’s a cute, little home,” she said. “I’ve been living in an apartment for many, many years. I want to get back into a home.”

The rent was reasonable and the home was in a nice neighborhood, she said.

There was one big problem with the property though. The home had been abandoned and is bank owned so it’s most definitely not for rent.

“It’s not for rent. It’s closing next week,” said Karen Berg, the listing agent.

Through some online research, Erickson found out it was all a scam and the scammer was trying to get her to send a deposit to them without allowing her to see the home first. The con artists was using a name that matched the name on the home records.


Berg said that Erickson’s call to her was the third one alerting her that the listed home was the target of a scam.

“The big red flag is if they’re asking for money and they’re not going to show you the place, and they’re out of state,” Berg said, who’s a Realtor with First Weber. “It’s just unfortunate. They’re preying on people.”

By this time, Erickson said she knew it was a scam, but she kept in contact with the scammer to see how far they’d go. In fact, she is still in email communication with the person, who she said she believes is overseas. She said she hopes to try and get an address out of him or her so she can provide it to authorities so they can investigate.

“These people need to be stopped. They have to know they can’t just prey on people like this,” Erickson said. “Because somebody will definitely get hurt in a big way.”

Erickson said she has continued her search for a home, and believe it or not, she has received three more scam email replies — identical to the first one.

Consumer protection officials said that they couldn’t provide specific numbers on how many types of these cyber crime complaints they’ve taken, but a spokesperson said they’re definitely on the rise.

They said prospective renters or buyers should know who they’re dealing with online, and if someone is asking for money before being allowed to see a home or property first, it’s likely a scam.

Dane County homes sales were up 20 percent in May compared to the same time last year. It’s the 11th straight month the county has seen a spike.

However, the median sale price dropped slightly by 1.4 percent. So far this year, about 2,000 homes have been sold in the county.