Craigslist scam hits Dougherty home listing

ALBANY, Ga. -- Less than a year old, the Craigslist.org website listing for Albany classifieds already has scam artists trying to fleece people, police officials said.

"We have someone trying to rent a house at 1105 River Pointe Drive on craigslist," said Capt. Jim Sexton, of the Dougherty County Police Department.

"The house wasn't listed by the owners. It is for sale but not rent so they were surprised to get phone calls from people wanting to rent it."

The four-bedroom, two-bath house was listed by the scammers for rent at $800, said Jean Shiver, a RE/MAX of Albany Realtor, who is acting as the legitimate agent to sell the house.

"They scraped all the information from our MLS listing, including pictures," Shiver said. "They want the first month's rent and a security deposit. Naturally you would get nothing back and you can't move in because the owners are not renting it. They are selling it."

The scammers could be located anywhere in the world, Sexton said. Nigeria is particularly known for online scams.

Shiver said this was the first time clients of hers were used as part of a scam. Sexton said he has had a complaint about a craigslist.org scam involving a vehicle before, but this is the first real estate craiglist.org scam he has come across.

However, scams involving real estate rentals have been around for a long time in major cities such as New York where housing costs a bundle and people seem to flock to bargains.

The NYDailyNews.com website carried a story about a rental scam in 2008. An attractive sounding two-bedroom with a balcony in Bay Ridge really rented for $2,200 at that time.

A scammer advertised it on craigslist.org for $950. The catch: you had to rent it sight unseen - and send a security deposit.

"This is just one more reason you should always deal with a local real estate agent," Shiver said.