Tenant Beware: Navigating the Perils of Online Rental Scams

Nov 12, 2023

By Vanessa L. Saunders – Founder & CEO – Global Property Systems

The real estate market is a breeding ground for deceptive practices, especially concerning rental scams on platforms like Craigslist. These scams are not just a concern for potential tenants but also for Realtors who are responsible for monitoring and protecting their listings.

A Cautionary Tale:

In my own experience, I encountered a situation where a property listed for sale was fraudulently advertised as a rental. A woman was duped into paying over $5000 to a scammer posing as a minister on a mission abroad. It was a sobering reminder of the cunning tactics employed by online scammers. Only this week, one of our properties listed for sale was fraudulently posted on Craigslist as a rental.

The Persistent Issue of Online Scams:

Rental scams have long been a long-standing issue, with scammers frequently targeting vulnerable individuals. They often lure potential tenants with attractive properties that are in all reality listed for sale, not for rent.

The Emotional and Financial Toll:

Victims of these scams face both financial loss and emotional distress, feeling betrayed and vulnerable.

Realtors’ Responsibility:

Realtors must vigilantly monitor their listings to ensure they are not being misused on platforms like Craigslist. When we discover one of our listings being falsely advertised as a rental, it is  our duty to report and red-flag such instances promptly.

Advice for Tenants and Realtors:

For tenants, always verify rental listings on major real estate websites like Zillow or Realtor.com. If a property is listed for sale, directly contact the listing Realtor to confirm its rental status.

Realtors, too, should regularly check platforms like Craigslist to ensure their listings aren’t misrepresented. This proactive approach is vital in protecting both their clients’ interests and unsuspecting tenants.


The mantra “Tenant Beware” is crucial in the digital age of real estate. Be vigilant, conduct thorough research, and don’t let desperation cloud your judgment. For Realtors, safeguarding your listings from fraudulent activities is not just a responsibility but a necessity. Together, we can work towards a more secure and transparent real estate market.


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