This is a consumer alert for those in Northeast Ohio on the hunt for a new home. Finding the perfect place to put down roots can be stressful. With so many choices online, it can be hard to cut through the clutter.
Now, con-artists are crafting ways to cash in on that uncertainty.
For example, there was a classic two-story home on a quiet street in Elyria that was creating a lot of buzz online.
“The property is for sale,” said Nancy Hull, Five Oaks Realty Owner.
Hull’s Elyria real estate company has the listing. Over the last couple of weeks, Hull has seen a sudden spike in calls from people wanting not to buy the home, but to rent it.
"The information of a listed property is readily available," said Hull.
A post on Craigslist is the reason for the rush of requests. It offers up the home for just $600 a month.
"It has to be brought to public's attention not to ever try to buy or rent a house from Craigslist," said Hull.
Hull told News 5 a con artist trying to make a quick buck took information from sites like Realtor.com and Zillow to create the bogus offer.
The hope is a potential renter will pony up the security deposit before realizing what was going on.
"They ask for $600 to $800 security deposit," said Hull.
Just this month, a pair of Five Oaks Realty homes have been used in fake Craigslist rental ads.
Despite contacting the company twice, the ad for the Elyria home remains active.
Hull's advice to those looking for a new place to call home is to stay off sites like this.
“I would really stay off the internet because there's so many opportunities to be scammed. We're not talking $10 to $20, we're talking $500 to $1,000," said Hull.
Hull is not aware of anyone losing any cash so far. She's sharing her story to raise awareness about the risks of renting online.
"There's too much money involved," said Hull.
Hull said what saved some people from being duped is the "For Sale" sign that sits in front of these homes.
Despite the scammers telling potential renters to ignore them, they called the number listed and then found out that ad was a fake.
Hull and her real estate agents involved filed a report with Elyria Police.