Chandler renters targeted by scam artist on Craiglist, lose $2K

Posted at 9:00 PM, Nov 22, 2016

Moving in and getting settled has been challenging for the Brisco family.

"The worst thing for me right now is having to move twice," Phillip Brisco said.

The two moves coming within less than 24 hours of each other. 

"We are kind of worn out," Marion Brisco said.

Home number one was a dream come true. The timing was perfect, because their family home was in foreclosure and they had to get out.

"We had to move out quickly," Marion said. "This house was open and available."

The rental was listed on Craigslist and looked legitimate. They even did their own research and made sure the person advertising the home actually owned the property.

"This was a fresh start and getting our feet on the ground again and moving forward," Phillip said.

They signed the papers, wired the $2,000 for first months rent and security deposit straight to their "landlord's" bank account and moved in — only to get the boot shortly after.

"Within an hour, we got a knock on the door from police, saying you don't belong here,"Marion said.

The real owners, a property management company, called police. A confusing situation for the family who had receipts and a contract.

Police told this family of four they had been scammed. They had to figure out where to go quickly.

"I was thinking, if we could stay together, even if we are homeless we would be fine," Marion said.

But thankfully, a friend and Chandler firefighters, came together to help out the struggling family.

They are still coming to terms with the fact that they are out $2,000 dollars and are completely exhausted from all the moving, but they want to warn people so they don't become victims.

"You'd like to think the best of people, but you have to be careful," Marion said.

So in hindsight there is one red flag the family pointed out to me the person they were dealing with asked them to transfer money to an account with a completely different name than the homeowner's. 

Also, reading the email, the scam artist had a lot of grammatical errors.

Craigslist offers some advice as well:

  • Ask to see the landlord’s ID – record all the information you can from it.
  • Use a browser to search for the person’s name who you’re dealing with. Be sure to add quotes around their name. You could add the words “fraud” or “scam” at the end of your search terms.
  • Use reverse directory look up if the person has given you their telephone number. It’s important to double check that they are who they say they are.
  • Visit the local county courthouse to look up property ownership for the apartment in question. Who really owns it? Is it the person you’re dealing with? Or someone else?
  • Scan any provided photographs carefully. Do they match up with what you’ve seen in person? Do they look like they all came from the same place?
  • They don’t ask for an application or permission to check your credit? That’s a red flag!
  • Considering the current state of our economy and the rise in foreclosures, ask the landlord if they’re current on their mortgage payments, and then get their answer in writing.
  • Consider using another method for obtaining a rental, i.e. real estate agent, going through a rental agency, etc.