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Zoey_JD, Criminal attorney
Category: Fraud Examiner
Satisfied Customers: 23972
Experience:  Active member of the NYS bar since 1989
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This is a rental scam. i answered a craigslist rental listing

Customer Question

this is a rental scam. i answered a craigslist rental listing for rapid city, sd. drove by the house it was empty (at the time). the person emailed me details about the house and how much deposit and and rent was. the person who owns the house (i've confirmed name and address match doing a background check) stated she is out of town, which is reasonable there are alot of people here who move to warm climates in the winter. i was told that the keys would be sent to me after i sent the money by money gram. so i sent the money and never recieved the keys and now there are people living in the house. the person has not returned my money, and has not responded to my by either email or text. who do i need to contact about this scam?
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Fraud Examiner
Expert:  Zoey_JD replied 9 months ago.
Hello, Yes, that is the prototypical rental scam. And they are all over Craigslist. Here's how it works: You see a home in a desirable area on a site such as Craigslist. The price of the rental for the area will be much too good to be true. The owner will tell you that he or she cannot show you the house and will have some kind of reasonable excuse. However, he says that he has keys and all you have to do is wire the deposit and he will send you the keys and the lease.Of course, the keys never come, even though as part of the scam you may end up signing a lease. That is because there is no house for rent. There are no keys. Your money is gone and your "landlord" is nowhere to be found either, since everything he told you is a lie.If the house exists at all you will find the premises occupied by a longtime owner or tenant who doesn't know what you're talking about because it was never actually for rent. And there you are, without a home having also lost hefty sum of cash, with no legal recourse, since your scammers can be anyone anywhere in the world.You can read more about this on Your scammer can be anyone, anywhere in the world, and as all that you had was an email address, he or she can simply disappear into cyberspace by not answering his email or changing his email address. You're the victim of a crime. If you wired your money off via MoneyGram or Western Union, you can consider the money gone, as it's untraceable. Finding your scammer will be a matter for the police. Report the to the FBI at, to the Federal Trade Commission at and to Craiglist so that they take that ad down. If police have no better luck than you do reaching your so-called landlord, (I'm sure you didn't contract with the actual owner of the home), your unreimbursed losses are tax deducible when you're the victim of a crime. So you'll be able to recover some of your money in the form of a tax deduction when you file your taxes next year.