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Local realtor warns about Craigslist housing scams

Salem listing was target of scam

SALEM, Va. – A local realtor said he had a close call after one of his listings was at the center of a scam.

A person posing as the owner listed the home for rent on Craigslist, trying to scam people out of money.

Chris "Kidd" Carter wanted to sell a three-bedroom home in a quiet neighborhood in Salem, but it was someone Carter doesn't even know who was trying to do his job for him.

"(They were) representing they own the house. They don't," Carter said. "Basically, (they were) saying it's for rent. (The photos) look legit. (They were) saying, 'Send the deposit to a Western Union account' -- wherever that is -- 'and we will mail you the keys.'"

Carter, who works at Long and Foster Realtors, said the home has been on the market for sale for only about three weeks through his agency and multiple housing websites. A potential renter alerted him to the fact that someone was trying to rent it on Craigslist.

"The woman who saw the ad came by the house and saw the sign," Carter said. "The scammer told her, 'Don't worry about the sign in the front yard. It isn't for sale or anything.' Then she called me just to make sure before she sent anyone money," said Carter.

Carter then tried contacting the person who posted the ad.

"There's no phone number -- just an email address," Carter said. "He says he deaf. I just kind of said, 'Hey, really love that house you have over there on East Calhoun Street. Where can I send you money?' No response."

According to Carter, the home was never for rent through Long and Foster Realtors or posted to Craigslist. Carter said people should be careful where and to whom they are sending their money. He's hopes to prevent someone from falling for a scam.

"When I posted the Facebook status about this (Tuesday), a couple of other agents said they had similar things happening with their properties," Carter said.

No one lost any money with this scam. Carter said if you have any questions about a property you see on Craigslist, contacting an agent for help may be helpful.

 

The ad is no longer on the Craigslist website.