Police Warn About Local Housing Scams Involving Craigslist Ads

Credit: KCNC
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WACO (February 19, 2013)--Waco police were warning the public Tuesday about a rash of housing scams reported in the area that use Craigslist ads to lure victims.

Waco police Detective James Head said the scam usually involves someone answering an advertisement about a house that is for rent and when the reply comes it asks for a down payment, usually by Moneygram or Western Express money order.

The down payment is to be sent to an address, usually in another city, and the scammers even provide a phone number that prospective renters can call to verify the offer.

The phone number, however, is linked to a non-traceable pre-paid cellular telephone, Head said.

When the victim then sends the money the suspect can trace it by the transmittal number and can cash it anywhere in the world.

The suspects identify a legitimate piece of property for sale or for rent and then create their own website on Craig's List using the real information on the real website.

A second type of rental scam is a sublease where the person wants to lease the apartment to someone else, but cannot get out of the lease.

The apartment is usually vacant and the suspect agrees to meet with the person and get them to sign a lease or rental agreement.

The lease or rental agreement usually is a copy of a real agreement, but the names and dates have been erased using white out.

The suspect asks the prospective renter to meet them at a neutral location, usually a parking lot at Walmart, H-E-B, or shopping mall.

The victim then gives the suspect a down payment of several hundred dollars and they victim then gets a lease or rental agreement with his information on it, but the lease document is a fraud.

Head was asking Tuesday that anyone who may have been a victim of one of these types of thefts, or has seen the suspects or their car in one of this types of thefts to contact him at (254) 750-3656.