FTC shuts down large Craigslist rental fraud
Many people looking for a house to rent or buy go to Craigslist. Craigslist provides a great free service – but the crooks are using the site as well to rip people off. The FTC has just shut down Credit Bureau Center. This company advertised attractive rentals by posting pictures of great places at good prices. Addresses were not provided in the ad. Those interested in renting could only contact the company by email. The company responded by email, telling victims that in order to see the property they had to go to a website, get a “free” credit report, and bring it along to the walkthrough.
But those who obtained the credit report were not told that by putting in their credit card number and other personal information, such as a social security number, they were really signing up with a credit monitoring service – and would be charged $29.95 every month until they could make the charges stop. The FTC says that this company billed victims for more than $6 million.
There was no walkthrough. The rental properties either did not exist or the Defendants had no right to rent them. The fraud was all about conning people into providing their credit card numbers.
The FTC’s court brief said between it and the BBB there were over 500 consumer complaints.
This is not the only case involving fake houses offered for sale on craigslist. Last fall there were news reports of a search warrant being served in Santa Barbara, CA.
A study was released a year or so ago doing an in depth look at Craigslist rental frauds.