When Spencer Skinner of Seymour, TN needed to find a new place for his family and for the foster dog program he heads, he naturally turned to Craigslist, as many people do these days. He found a four-bedroom home and paid the robust down payment, but a few days after moving in there was a knock on the door.
The man standing there was the actual homeowner, not the person Skinner had dealt with via Craigslist. To make matters worse, four other families, who also fell for the scam, were pulling up, expecting to move in.
“The homeowner, when he got there, was just as freaked out and stressed out as we were about it,” said Skinner.
According to a report from the Blount County Sheriff’s Office, the con artist was a former tenant. Deputies say that she scammed people out of thousands.
But she didn’t just scam Skinner out of $2,000, she also temporarily robbed his family of their dream to create a rescue home for pit bulls.
On the bright side, Skinner said that the women reached out and agreed to give him his money back, but things are still hard for the family. He said, “It hurts a lot. It put us back to square one.”
Though the majority of listings on Craigslist are reputable, there are still bound to be scams and cons hidden between the genuine listings. Consumerist lists a few warning signs indicative of a scam, which include a lack of photos, a mandatory credit check, a lack of exact address in the listing, and a suspicious email name like “KYDIXOROROAQUEP” which appears to have been put through a consonant grinder to make it harder to trace.
“We advertise our homes for rent on Craigslist, among other internet sources, and feel it is an effective way to reach potential tenants,” says Bryan Schroeder, owner of FasterHouse. “We encourage potential tenants to research the postings on Craigslist to make sure they are legitimate before sharing any sensitive information.”
Essentially, if it sounds too good to be true, it is. For those worried about getting scammed, it’s much better to work through reputable companies, even if it might cost a bit more. After all, you can’t really put a price on peace of mind.
Skinner and his family are currently staying with his in-laws, and cannot afford to rent another home at the moment, but that’s not going to hold him back. He told Local 8 WVLT, “We’re not going to stop because we got set back.”