Scammers pretend to be real estate agent in Craigslist ad

May 2, 2013 4:55:46 AM PDT
There's no denying that Houston's rental market is hot. It's great for landlords, but it's not so great for those looking to lease a home. And now, we're learning of a way scammers are taking advantage to those looking for a place to live.

The Houston Association of Realtors, or HAR, has sent an alert to its 24,000 members, warning about this situation. The Woodlands-area realtor who contacted Eyewitness News wants everyone else about what happened so they don't get scammed.

"It's been completely redone," Realtor Ryan Hajdik said.

At $1,250 a month, Hajdik calls the house in Greengate Place a good deal.

"Completely remodeled kitchen, new A/C system," Hajdik said.

But it's nowhere near what it was listed for.

"The house is immaculate, but not it's $600 a month," Hajdik said.

Hajdik listed the rental property two weeks ago and within a few days, he had so many calls that he and his wife could barely keep up. Normally that's good, but the problem is potential renters were referencing a different ad.

"Said we don't have that for $600 a month, where did you get that from" Hajdik said.

Turns out someone had stolen the listing and created his own on Craigslist complete with a long back story.

"He was a missionary is west Africa and all he cared about was while he was having someone take care of his house," Hajdik said.

"If it's too good to be true, it probably is," Houston Area Realtors Association Chair Danny Frank said.

Frank has heard it all before. But he says there is an easy way he says to protect yourself.

"If you use a real estate agent, a licensed realtor, you wont have this issue. It just doesn't happen," Frank said.

"It is a scam," Hajdik said.

Hajdik just hopes no one fell for it.

"The guy's obviously a huge crook," he said.

The owner of the house hoped to report the incident to authorities but he was told by the sheriff's office that since there's no victim, there hasn't been a crime. The ad has been removed from Craigslist.
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