West Virginia AG Warns of Craigslist Rental Scams

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The West Virginia Attorney General is warning people when looking for rental properties on Craigslist.

Some people are falling victim by giving their information for supposed "credit checks" and others by sending hundreds of dollars for a security deposit.

The rental scams range from vacation homes to rental properties right down the street.

Browsing for a new place to live, Arielle Hord went straight to Craigslist.

"I found a house that was a two-bedroom that would accept pets for $450 a month, which I thought, oh great, awesome deal," Hord said.

But instead of getting a grand tour, she got the runaround.

"His first thing was I am hard of hearing so we'll have to do all communication through email," Hord said.

She was adamant to see the inside of her prospective home, but was told to fill out a questionnaire first and send nearly $1,000.

The situation raised a red flag and she went online to look for more information.

"I actually found it on a true realty company, called the realtor and they said yes, in fact, that is a scam."

Hord isn't alone.

The West Virginia Attorney General's office has received dozens of Craigslist complaints.

"Through this rental property scam, that sometimes you may have signs that you may only see a picture of the inside of the building, and you might not be able to identify that it's clearly at that site," West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said.

The Attorney General said you can avoid becoming a victim by visiting the property, looking it up online and being wary if they ask for money upfront.

But we also found another way you can protect yourself.

"We can help them track down to see before they do this, before they submit any credit applications, determine whether the property is actually owned by the person that actually listed it," Cabell County Clerk Karen Cole said.

Your county clerk's office can give you information about who owns the property, the physical address and can sometimes get you a phone number for the real owner.

"I felt like I had been betrayed," Hord said.

While it was nerve-racking, Hord played it safe this time around. She didn't send any money or information.

But it's a lesson she hopes other people don't have to learn on their own.

She also said she watches Craigslist ads closer now, for things like grammar and a phone number where someone can be reached.

The Attorney General said if you've been a victim of a scam, contact their office.

He said if you've already sent your information or money, it could be difficult to fix, but they work with several agencies to try to recover it.

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