Consumer alert: Phony Craigslist ad offers to lease Milwaukee home

Posted at 6:09 PM, Feb 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-24 19:10:08-05

Fake house listings on Craigslist could have you sending money to someone, but never getting the chance to move in.

That's the case with one property on Milwaukee's northwest side. One look at the house and it's clear from a large sign out front that REIMidwest owns the home. But, in a Craigslist ad ripped from a legitimate ad from the company, a man named Guillaume Camara claims he owns the property.

"It's pretty frustrating," said Marty Boardman, co-owner of REIMidwest. "It feels like you've had something stolen from you."

Camara might not have accounted for what people did after seeing the sign.

"Called the number on our sign, rather than this scammer, and it alerted us right away that something fishy was going on," said Boardman. "If the landlord is telling you they can't meet you at the home and to peek in the windows, that's an indicator that they probably don't own the house."

It's one of many red flags in the email sent to potential renters from the scammer, including the owner saying he left in a hurry, was charging half as much as the real owner and only communicating by email and text.

If you do look at a property online, the Better Business Bureau recommends searching the property's description online to verify the listing. They said not to wire money or use prepaid debit cards, or believe that the owner is out of the country.

They recommend seeing a property in person, and if it seems too good to be true, it just might be.

"This guy's asking for, essentially $1,500 between the deposit and first month's rent, that's a lot of money and it would be really awful if somebody were to send this guy that kind of money only to find out he doesn't own the home," said Boardman.

More on the topic from the BBB here.