I recently listed a vacation rental condo on craiglist, trying to get someone to rent it from me. I’ve done this for several years in a row now with no problems. I’ve got a good contract, both me and the renters are protected and all has gone smoothly.
But suddenly, for this year’s rental, I received two separate emails requesting the unit. One from Texas, one from London. Both have almost identical stories – their spouse’s company is paying for the rental, they just need my mailing address to send the check to. Both specifically said no PO boxes allowed.
Now, neither of them waited for me to confirm the dates they requested were available, neither wanted a copy of the contract for perusal, both say it’s a 3rd party that will be paying via certified check, and both want my mailing address. Neither are asking for bank info, social security info, etc. But it still seems fishy to me.
Why do I think these are both scam attempts? Even though I can’t figure out what the scam is?
The check from the company will be for more than the rental. You will be instructed to return the difference to the renter by Western Union, because they need it fast. Then the check will bounce, and you will be out the difference.
The fact of two identical stories sounds fishy too.
Normally, providing an address would not be a problem, but it this case it might be. They could seek to use your address as a means of also attempting to rent the property and collect rent. I’m not sure how that would be effected.
As far as the certified check, you should not do anything until the money is in your account and the check is cleared. Just having the money is not enough. The check has to be cleared. Some banks give you the money early and come back if the check bounces. This check clearing would need to take place before any rental date.
Craig’s List is becoming more and more the home of mischievous near-do-wells. They have added many warnings for good reason. Thieves come to your home and online thieves seek to cheat you by wire.
My motto has always been, “When in doubt, don’t.” Since this raises flags to you, move on to another potential customer. If you have to respond, just say, “This was not a good fit” and “I had to go in another direction.”