Portland homeowners, realtors seeing more fake rental listings

Scammers are trying to take advantage of people looking for rentals. It’s often happening through Craigslist.
Published: May. 3, 2022 at 6:40 AM PDT
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - Scammers are trying to take advantage of people looking for rentals. It’s often happening through Craigslist.

“It was amazing,” Tuong Nguyen said. “They took all the pictures from our realtor’s posting and they just added their own words. They basically said in their words that they want to sell the home, but if they found good renters, then they’re willing to rent cheap.”

Nguyen recently put his southeast Portland home on the market to sell, only to see the listing pop up on Craigslist as well. He only found out about it thanks to some surprise visitors.

“A couple of women came and knocked on our door and my dog started barking,” Nguyen said. “So, I answered the door and I talked to them, and they were saying that the landlord said they were going to show the place. They were going to give a tour of the place.”

Confused, Nguyen told the women he’s owned the home for years.

“But then they called the other guy who said he’s the “landlord” and he said, ‘No, no, I own the house,’” Nguyen said. “And so then they got confused. I actually talked to him, too, because he wanted to know who it was that claimed they owned the house. We talked a little bit and he was pretty gruff.”

He said thankfully the women hadn’t paid the scammer any money yet, but they did fill out an application and give their personal information. Nguyen also felt scammed in a sense.

“We were still upset because we feel like our privacy had been taken from us,” Nguyen said.

Portland real estate broker John McKay said this type of scam happens all the time.

“It’s a hot rental market,” he said. “So, you know, the hotter it gets, the more likely it is in this market.”

He would guess about 80% of his listings end up on Craigslist.

“Generally speaking, the rental, the rent price is extremely low,” McKay said. “They’re trying to get people. Other than that, that’s it. They look like a great ad.”

McKay said sometimes potential renters show up when he hosts an open house, encouraged by the fake owner to go take a look at the property then.

“They were actually told by the scammer, you know, that my realtor can’t sell the house,” McKay said. “Don’t tell him I’m trying to rent it because he’s not doing a good job.”

He said, unfortunately, there’s not much anyone can do, other than report the posting on Craigslist. But even then, the scammer could just create a new ad.

“If I wasn’t home, they probably would have given him money to be honest with you,” Nguyen said.

For Nguyen, he suggests people meet each other in person if possible.

“If you’re all online, it’s too easy to get fooled,” he said.

The broker we spoke with said this a tough scam, because it’s not even that uncommon to try and sell your place and rent it at the same time. His best advice: just do as much research as you can before sending anyone money. And yes, if the price really is low for the market, it’s most likely a scam.