San Diego Craigslist Rental Scams – Important Information Owners Need to Know

By GoldenWest Management

SAN DIEGO, CA – If you’re managing your San Diego rental property yourself, you most likely will be using to list your property online and connect with new tenants but did you know that Craiglist is also one of the easiest ways for scammers to steal money from unsuspecting landlords and their prospective tenants?

Craigslist Rental Scams Revealed

Thanks to the Internet it’s never been easier for scammers to steal thousands of dollars from their victims every year and Craigslist is one of their favorite websites to use because with a scammer anywhere in the world, even in Nigeria.

All a scammer has to do is use a VPN to mask their IP address and Craigslist will think that they are in the United States than when they combine that with a web-based email address like Gmail, it gets even harder for a scammers identity to be revealed, or for them to be found.

How Do San Diego Craigslist Rental Scams Work?

When it comes time for you to market your rental property online you’re going to probably take lots of photos to post on along with writing a great description about your listing right?

Basically, a scammer copies the photos, basic verbiage and post the home on craigslist for a well below market price. Then they simply attach an untraceable phone number (think google voice) and generic email and they fish for potential targets.

Their targets include People who are in a situation where they need a home fast and are not very experienced with renting. These unfortunate prospects will make the mistake of believing the “story” they are being spun and will end up wiring money or worse giving personal information (social security, birthdate, driver’s license).


The Scammers Succeed with Telling A “Story”

Sadly, people looking for rental properties on San Diego Craigslist get scammed every day because they will believe the scammer’s story which often will include something like:

  • They are on a missionary trip out of the country.
  • They had to move out of state at the last minute due to job transfer.

A scammer will typically talk with their victim via email and encourage them to visit the property, even peek in the windows, then email them back and let the scammer know if they are interested in renting the property or not.

Why Landlords / DIY Owners Get Scammed on Craigslist

Here is what we see from your general do it yourself landlord and how their property is scammed:

  1. Homeowners don’t use watermarks on their photos like professional companies, therefore the pictures they post are easily duplicated and posted online.
  2. This also applies to professional signage, flyers, etc.…Prospects directed to by the home or peek in the window don’t see any red flags to cause them to think that the scammer is not the homeowner.
  3. Homeowners tend to use craigslist exclusively – and you guessed it, that is the #1 place we find scams. Craigslist also syndicates to hot pads and pad mapper so eventually, just a few well placed “scam” ads can supplant the real advertisement throughout the internet.


Can the Authorities Do Anything to Stop Craigslist Scammers?

One of the sad things about Craigslist scams is that the authorities are literally powerless to stop scammers because, proxy servers and VPN networks like make it easy for anyone, anywhere in the world to mask their identity and real location.

Anytime a victim reaches out to the authorities or media their efforts are almost always met with zero results with bringing the scammer to justice because the scammer can always shut down their fake identity or email account and start over with another online identity.

Casual businessman working at office desk, using mobile phone and laptop computer, typing, making phone call, smiling.
Casual businessman working at office desk, using mobile phone and laptop computer, typing, making phone call, smiling.

What should a landlord/owner do to avoid getting scammed?

Try changing photos and post a sign outside their home with flyers that lists the correct contact info and price, but the reality is that hiring a professional property management company is the best defense, especially for these reasons:

  1. A professional will use watermarks and embedded HTML listings…prospects will be able to discern that these are legitimate postings.
  2. Search engine power. Professional companies like GWM often are recognized by Zillow, Trulia, and other syndication partners throughout the internet. This means when there is conflicting home data, the syndication sites will opt for the more trusted partner: Scammers ads fall by the wayside while pro postings remain.
  3. Pro companies also have a database of prospects already…they aren’t stuck to craigslist and maybe a $30 ad.
  4. Professional signage and flyers – When a prospect drives by, they see the sign out front and they call the number…this alerts them that the ad they saw is a scam and that helps shut it down quickly. Scammers don’t want to waste time on properties that are not going to bear fruit, so they will give up on the pro managed home and move on to the easier self-managed properties.
  5. Professional showings – having a dedicated and licensed agent to show prospects allows peace of mind for both the homeowner and the renter prospect. In addition, a professional application, usually online thru a secured system, gives a potential Tenant the confidence to apply without having to worry about their information being hijacked.

Scamming is a big issue that affects both homeowner and renter. Without a professional company advertising and representing your interest, Landlords may have difficulty procuring “A” rated Tenants. And with the rise of these types of scams, renters are being more cautious about pulling the trigger on a home that they believe may be “too good to be true.” That will have a dramatic effect on the do it yourself Landlord who is trying to cover their mortgage.

Don’t wait until it’s too late, call a property manager who can protect your investment.

Get Property Management in San Diego Here

For professional property management in San Diego contact GoldenWest Management today by calling us at (858) 779-0577 or click here to connect with us online.


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