WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WFLA) – Police in Florida are warning of Craigslist rental scammers. One woman who said she found her dream home online now knows it was too good to be true.
“This is the house, a beautiful house,” April Stone said as she showed photos from a Craigslist ad.
Stone knew the Winter Haven, Florida home would be perfect for her family. It was listed on Craigslist for $700 dollars a month.
“Three bedrooms, two baths for rent. Seven hundred dollars a month, utilities included,” she said.
While the deal sounded too good, Stone noticed even more red flags when she called the so-called homeowner.
“The guy was talking about being a U.N. ambassador,” she said.
Stone said he was extremely pushy and told her she could only see the outside of the property.
She was also tipped off by some of the questions on the application.
“He was asking for our work hours and a photo of my entire family,” Stone said. “Every time I think about it, I get goosebumps all over my body. That’s absolutely terrifying.”
A few clicks and a phone call later, she discovered it was a scam. The home is actually for rent for $1,400 a month.
Stone immediately contacted police and the real homeowner, who wasn’t aware her house was on Craigslist.
“I was very happy that she called,” Catherine Frank said.
Since then, three people have contacted Frank about the fake Craigslist ad.
“It’s scary because I don’t know who is going to show up and think they rented it,” she said.
Both women hope their story helps others.
“People that are moving already have it hard. They don’t need it any harder than that, by having money stolen from them,” Frank said.
“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your gut, trust your instincts,” Stone said.
Police recommend that renters always verify and make sure they are renting from the actual owner of the home.
Potential renters can find the owner of a home on their county property appraiser website or even speak with neighbors.
According to Winter Haven police, “Citizens are warned to triple check before sending any money and, certainly, make all transactions in a public place, like a law enforcement facility.”
No arrests have been made.