Homeowner shocked to find her place listed for rent by stranger on Craigslist

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- How much would you pay to live in a newly remodeled bungalow in the heart of the Houston Heights? Does $850 sound good?

"I'm just hoping no U-Haul truck shows up at my house," laughed Claudia Geoly.

Geoly lives 2,000 miles from Houston, in California.

So, when she decided to rent out her mother's old home, she did exactly what she was supposed to do. She got a realtor and posted photos and details of the home on www.har.com. She decided to charge $3,000 a month in rent.

Then, two days later, Geoly found an ad posted on Craigslist. Same house, same photos, but for $850/month. But Geoly hadn't posted it.

"How could somebody take somebody's house, pretend they're me and try to rent out?" she asked. "They actually have an application and have keys, according to them, but they don't, because I'm the owner."

When you respond to the Craigslist ad, you get an email from a man named Darrell Davis. He says he moved to Ohio, and says the place is locked and the keys are with him.

It's easy to fill out a rental application and send him a check.

"Anyone can fall for it," said Leah Napoliello, a senior investigator with the Better Business Bureau. "It's very easy and sometimes these ads can look very legitimate as well."

She advises never renting a property without seeing the place and meeting the owner - face to face.

"Be very cautious if the person who is renting the property is very unavailable," Napoliello said. "They won't meet with you, they're only available via email."
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