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Money Scams to Watch out For on Craigslist Seattle


If you're looking for a rental on Seattle Craigslist, then it's important that you are aware of the many scams that have been posted. There are a few things to watch out for, such as poor grammar in the listing, a deal that sounds too good to be true, and a poster who won't meet you at the property to give you a walk through before collecting the rent or deposit for the property. Here are five housing and rental scams that made local news to give you a few examples of what to watch out for.

1. Woman busted in room rental scam

The Pierce County Sheriff deputies arrested a woman in April of 2018 for posting a rental scam operation on Seattle Craigslist. She is being charged for her involvement in a serial rental scam in the area. The suspect posted ads on Craigslist and Facebook. Victims of the scam would meet her at the house advertised at 114th Avenue East to view the room. Several house hunters who fell for the scam signed the rental agreement which seemed legitimate at the time, gave her deposit funds that ranged from $650 to more than $1,600 to rent the room. When victims attempted to move in, they would discover that the locks had been changed and the gutsy suspect would give them excuses about why they could not yet move in.

One victim named Kat Benjamin said that she actually showed up with all her things and when she knocked on the door or tried calling, there was no answer. When contact was eventually made, the suspect made the excuse that a better contract was needed and she hadn't yet drawn it up. Th e property is located in the South Hill neighborhood of Puyallup. Sheriff's deputies found the woman hiding in the attic when they appeared to arrest her for the scam. She was taken into custody and booked into the Pierce County jail on charges of theft of rental or leased property, trafficking stolen property, theft and resisting arrest.

2. College student victim of housing scam in Seattle

A college student from Arizona was searching for housing in Seattle, for accommodations for an internship needed. He believed that he had secured a town home, but to his dismay, he discovered that he had become the victim of an old Seattle Craigslist scam. Austin Grad answered an ad to rent a town home in the lower Queen Anne neighborhood. He said that the poster answered his phone call and sent all the information that Grad requested and answered his questions. It seemed legitimate, so Austin wired him the $2,500 deposit and first month's rent payment. When Grad arrived at the residence, he discovered that somebody else was living in the home. Grad had talked to the scammer on the phone just ten minutes prior to his arrival and thee scammer assured him that the room was ready to move into. Upon arrival, Grad realized he had been scammed and the scammer would no longer respond to calls or texts. Scams of this type are often set up from countries outside the United States. The rule of thumb for rentals is do not send money through wire transfer.

3. Home stripped bare after fake online ad

Here is another example of how fake rental/housing ads on Craigslist can scam people. Laurie Raye of Tacoma, Washington came home to discover that an ad had been placed that offered a deal people couldn't refuse. The ad stated that people were free to come and take anything out of the alleged rental house for free because everything had to go. The hoax resulted in people taking what they wanted from her home, which wasn't really a rental that needed to be cleaned out. It only took two hours for the home to be stripped down to windows and light fixtures. The scam took place after Raye evicted her sister from her home.

4. Beware: Scammers Repost legit Capitol Hill apartment listings

The Capitol Hill rental market is teeming with listings, but some of them have proven to be scams. There is a new scam out there and thieves are using legitimate ads to repost ads for apartment rentals that have already been rented out. The legitimate owners of the property have already done the work for the scammers who make arrangements to lease the rooms out for $500 less than the original posting. The same pictures and language is used in the ads, which makes them seem legitimate. Scammers are communicating with victims through email and internet phone calling services that are set up with phony which are stored in our server and are only valid for that single phone call. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is, so renter beware.

5. Craigslist Seattle vacation scam

Another nasty scam that's been posted on Seattle's Craiglist is the vacation scam. Scammers post rooms or condo's for rent for people planning to vacation in the area. The homes really exist and posters use pictures and real facts in the ads, but the problem is that they do not own the property. Victims pay in advance by Western Union wire or check, but when they make the trip across the country and show up at the home, they learn that they've been scammed. This happened to Alan Stout and Angela Miceli. They came to Seattle to be married. Angela's father secured the rental for the bridal party through Craigslist, but when the party arrived, they discovered that the home was being lived in.

A Guide to Using Craigslist Seattle the Right Way

Seattle is a booming and beautiful city in the Pacific Northwest. Many residents enjoy using the convenience of the local Craigslist online classified ads both to list items that they have for sale, and to find items that they need such as appliances, cars, trucks, RVs and much more. It's a great resource, but you must be extremely careful about who you trust when you use the site. The number of scams taking place through the site in the Seattle area have gone up to ridiculous levels in recent years. That's why we've prepared this guide to using Craigslist Seattle, to help you avoid becoming a scam victim.

How to spot a scam

If you're dealing with someone that you don't know, it pays to be cautious. There are a few different scams that have been problematic in the Seattle area. The first step in protecting yourself from con artists on the site is to know what kind of scams are common to the area. Seattle's Craigslist has seen a lot of rental and property scams, cars for sale scams, fake check scams and phony ticket sale scams. You can also check with the local chapter of the Better Business Bureau periodically to see if any new warnings have been added to the list. Next, we look at the common scams and signs that you should look for that will tell you that it's time to walk away from a deal.

Tickets for sale scam

Since there are so many events taking place, such as professional sporting events, concerts and other ticketed events, phony ticket sales are a big problem on the local Craigslist site. In some cases, people sell tickets that they cannot use and they're perfectly good and authentic, but scammers have made it tough to know if the tickets you buy are real or fake. There have been many victims who purchased event tickets for hundreds of dollars only to learn that they were counterfeit when they present them at the door. They are invalid for use because they have either already been used and copies were forged and sold to dozens of unsuspecting victims. You're taking your chances when you buy tickets from a private party on Craigslist.

Home rental scams

Realtors in the area are constantly being plagued with scammers stealing the information that they use to list homes for sale in the area on other sites. Con artists use the photos, descriptions addresses, and sometimes even the names of the realty agencies in their phony ads. Instead of offering the homes for sale, they post them for rent for far less than they would ordinarily go for. Here are the red flags that you're dealing with a scammer. They will make up an excuse why they cannot meet with you face to face. They usually offer a sob story and say they're missionaries, in the service, dealing with a family tragedy or something similar. They tell you to drive by the home and ignore the "for sale" sign in the yard. They insist on doing everything online, including you sending the deposit and rent money via wire transfer. They offer to mail the keys to you but after the money is sent, they cease all contact and you have been had. If you see any of these warning signs stop dealing with the person and don't give them any of your personal information because they also collect rental applications to get your personal info for identity theft.

Fake check scams

People selling items on the Seattle Craigslist must beware of people who contact you and say they're interested in buying an item you've listed for sale without even coming to see it. They usually don't quibble about the price and agree to send a cashier's check overnight mail. The check is made out for far more than the agreed upon price. They ask the seller to deposit the check, keep the fee for the item plus a little extra for their trouble, then send the rest to a "shipper" by wire funds transfer. The scammer says that they will pick up the item and deliver it but these are all signs that a scammer is trying to rip you off because the check will bounce a few days after deposited and you'll be responsible for paying back every cent plus fees.

Fake shippers/vehicle scams

Another common scam on Seattle Craigslist is the old car for sale scam. An ad with a photo of a vehicle is listed with details and a low selling price. The "owner" says they can't meet with you in person but will sell the vehicle through a safe "shipper" which is usually a trusted source such as eBay motors. They email you a link that looks perfectly legitimate with the eBay logo and everything. This is a scam site and if you send money for the vehicle, they're going to take it and run and you'll never hear from them again and it's tough to get your money back. Only deal with people who are local and willing to meet you face to face in a pubic place to avoid becoming the next victim of this scam.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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