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Some Minnesotans Scammed For Renting Fraudulent Vacation Homes On Craigslist

May 11, 2020 07:51AM ● By Editor

By David Schuman from WCCO-TV - May 11, 2020

Some people hoping to rent vacation homes north of the Twin Cities are getting scammed out of their money.

Deanne Furan was alerted to what was going on when she received a voicemail from a stranger that said, “You probably don’t know me but we were trying to rent your Cross Lake cabin.”

The man told her that her cabin was listed on Craigslist, which came as news to her.

“[The price] is low enough where people feel like, ‘Wow what a deal,'” Furan said.

Blaine Kriesel discovered his cabin was listed as well.

“Someone was posing as us and collecting rent payments for it,” he said.

Kriesel spoke to someone who lost about $1,500 wiring money to the scammer.

“I just felt bad for them because you could tell this was their summer vacation that was taken away from them,” he said.

The scammers stole the pictures for the false listings from Furan’s and Kriesel’s legitimate rental ads on other sites.

The victims even received phony lease agreements.

“I just felt powerless [when I found out],” Kriesel said. “I felt almost guilty.”

Trying to have the fake ads taken down proved to be an exhausting game of Whack-a-mole, so they decided to fight the misinformation with Craigslist posts of their own.

They listed screenshots of the scammers’ ads with ‘SCAM’ stamped on in big letters.

“I don’t want someone to arrive, [who] is not supposed to stay there, because they were duped,” Furan said. “There could be a very awkward or bad confrontation.”

“It’s something that we have to deal with quite a bit.”

Chad Dixon is an associate real estate broker for RE/MAX Results.

Dixon says he deals with scams like this quite a bit.

He says since potential renters are doing fewer in-person site checks right now, they should try to reach the property owner on the phone.

If they can’t, it’s a red flag.

Dixon also advises being extra vigilant when using a site like Craigslist.

“[There’s] no vetting system, no security in place,” he said. “Anybody who wants to can post an ad about anything.”

Craigslist has a system to flag listings and advice on its website for how to spot scams.

Our questions to the website weren’t answered Sunday.

Furan and Kriesel feel awareness is the only way to avoid receiving more calls from misled victims.

Furan says the Crosslake Police Department has reached out to Craigslist without success.

She says officers have also had trouble tracking down the scammers.

To see the original story and read related reporting, follow this link to the WCCO-TV website.

Watch the WCCO-TV Report here

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