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Americans continue to fall prey to a growing number of real estate scams — most often rental scams — on free classified ad sites. Craigslist, in particular, has been a site that housing experts have warned visitors to beware of when it comes to real estate transactions.

A recent case in the news from Lynchburg, Va., has reminded Americans the scams are still prevalent. A couple responded to an ad to rent a vacant home in the area, wiring $1,000 to the so-called landlord who posted the ad. The couple received keys to the home and moved in, only later to have police arrive at their front doorstep. While the home actually was listed for rent, a “fake” landlord — who had no claim to the property — had reposted the ad on Craigslist.

Janet Hart from the Better Business Bureau told AOL Real Estate that Craigslist real estate scams are particularly prevalent and online visitors need to be careful. One of the most common scams is  selling and renting “fake” homes, she says. She advises renters or buyers in these real estate transactions not to wire transfer any money unless it is to a reputable organization. Housing experts also suggest a simple online search may help avoid others from being duped: If the home appears elsewhere on the Internet for sale or rent and it’s from someone else, this should serve as a red flag.

Source: “Renters Beware: Fraudsters Still Lurking on Craigslist,” AOL Real Estate (March 12, 2012)


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