Housing rental scams appearing on Craigslist

By Jason Belk - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Craigslist, a web site that has become popular for listing local items for sale, has now become a hotspot for scams trying to trick people into giving personal information online.

Kelly Lafargue and her roommates began looking for a new house to rent around a month ago. Her search brought her to Craigslist.

"I just Google searched houses for rent in Lake Charles and one of the first things that popped up was Craigslist. I browsed through some of the ads there, and one of the things that caught my eye was this great house in Moss Bluff. It just seemed too good to be true. So many great amenities, a great price, it was huge, looked really nice," said Lafargue.

Lafargue thought the deal may be too good to be true, but once she received a suspicious email from the person listing the house, and then drove to look at the it, only to see it was for sale, she knew something was fishy.

"When I got the reply back, that's when the red flags started going off in my mind that this is definitely not right," said Lafargue.

In the reply the person listing the house stated he was out of the country, would not be able to show the house until a lease was signed, and asked for a variety of personal information from Kelly.

Derenda Grubb, the agent who is actually selling the house that Kelly found, says she has dealt with people putting fakes listings of her homes on Craigslist before

"It's not just me. Any agent in town that has a web site has been hit, it's not just one person, it is numerous people," said Grubb.

The fake listing is not only putting the potential renters at risk, but also the family living in the home now.

"I have had to caution them to not answer their door to anyone they do not know, because they have had people, actually, that were brazen enough to actually knock on their door and ask questions about the house," said Grubb.

We did reach out to Craigslist to ask about these fake listings, but received no response.

In the end, although Kelly wasn't fooled by the listing, she has learned a valuable lesson.

"What your mom says, if it looks too good to be true then it probably is," Lafargue said.

On Craigslist, as with anything online, do not give any information that you would not be willing to give to a complete stranger.

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