A Southwest Missouri woman, looking for a rental property, says she was almost scammed out of hundreds of dollars. Local realtors say it's not uncommon to find listed homes for sale or rent on the Craigslist website. Some realtors themselves use the website. But a few Four Staters have become victim to one particular scam on this website.
Frank William says in an e-mail that he wants to ensure someone who rents his house will take "absolute perfect" care of it. Photos of the inside include new kitchen cabinets and granite counter tops, and a spacious family room.
Something might make you suspicious, though.
Caitlyn Wood says, "This house is way too beautiful to rent out for 600, you know?"
Wood says Frank William is a fraud.
We asked her what made her decide to look on Craigslist for new homes.
"I was just looking through. I looked up Joplin houses and then I saw 40 homes for Joplin on Craigslist," says Wood.
Wood was very interested in this house, and communicated with William through e-mails because William said he lives in Indiana. Those e-mails show William encouraged Wood to visit "his" home for rent, but wanted her to disregard the "For Sale" sign in front. William said he's stopped dealing with the realtor because of too many fees.
He wanted $600 up front for a deposit. Wood visited the so-called rental house and called the listed realtor anyway.
"He was like, no, it's not for sale. He's ripping people off," says Wood.
We called Jennifer Allen, the real owner of the home, who lives in Ozark, Missouri. Allen says her realtor has been getting calls from other people interested in this home for rent that's really for sale.
About those pictures from William...
"My realtor has it listed out there for sale, so he (William) just copied and pasted the pictures," says Allen, who also says she feels mad, violated, and confused.
Wood says no one has ever tried to scam her until now. She's still in disbelief.
"I think he should get arrested for it," says Wood.
We asked Allen if this was a reminder to go through realtors to find places for sale or rent.
"I do. I was talking to my son about it. He told me, well we just don't do things like that anymore, Mom. They don't go face-to-face and they don't meet people. You can just get scammed so easily online," says Allen.
Wood says she realized this was a scam before she sent any money to William.
We talked to the realtor who is handling this property. He confirmed everything Wood told us, and added he's received similar calls from three other people. The realtor says one person did send money to William and lost that money.
We left a voicemail for William, and he hasn't returned our call.
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