Craigslist property rental scam hinges on reservation fee gambit

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The scam unfolds when the consumer contacts the poser landlord, who asks for a reservation fee upfront through a bank transfer, Cash App, Pay Pal, or another electronic money transfer. (Courtesy BBB)

CONCORD - The state's Attorneys General Office is warning residents not to fall prey to property rental scams through Craigslist, which are seeing a surge.

The scam involves an apartment or house that is offered for rent on Craigslist with posting that often contains significant details about the property, including photos, in an attempt to convince the consumer that the offer is legitimate.

Often, the scam artist uses photos and information that are copied from a legitimate posting by the owner of the property.

When the consumer contacts the person posing as the landlord, the consumer is asked to pay a reservation fee upfront through a bank transfer, Cash App, Pay Pal, or another electronic money transfer service. If the consumer asks to visit the property before making payment, the imposter "landlord" creates an excuse for why physically visiting the property is not possible.

Victims of these scams are at high risk of losing their reservation fee.

The AG's office offers thisadvice to avoid being a victim:

· Whenever possible, ask to see the property in advance of sending any payments or take steps to confirm the identity of the person offering to rent. If the rental is legitimate, the landlord should be willing to show you the property before you commit.

· If the rental property appears too good to be true for that price, it probably is.

· Consumers should not transfer or wire money to people they do not know. Most legitimate landlords will accept a personal check or money order.

· Never send a payment until the rental agreement is signed and you have confirmed that the rental is legitimate.

· Ask to speak with the landlord over the phone. If the landlord is unwilling to speak over the phone, or cannot answer basic questions about the property, assume it is a scam.

Anyone who believes that have fallen victim to this scam is asked to report it to your local police department and the Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau of the Attorney General's Office. To file a complaint: or by calling the Consumer Hotline at (603) 271-3641.

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