Tuesday, 05 December 2017 09:39

Couple stops short of falling for rental scam Featured

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WATERVILLE (WGME) - A Lewiston couple is warning others after nearly falling victim to a rental scam.

Realtors said it's resurfaced in central Maine, and in some cases, with a new twist.


A Lewiston couple said they saw a home listed for rent on Craigslist and immediately fell in love with it. They thought it seemed too good to be true, and it turns out, it was.


"I wanted this place, you have no idea how bad I wanted it." Ricky said he and his girlfriend Janice came across the ad on Friday.


The Prospect Street home was $1,600 a month, utilities included. It said colonial home, nice hardwood floors, spacious.


He said he responded to the ad by e-mail and heard back from a man identifying himself as the homeowner.


CBS 13 discovered it's the same name as the owner listed in city assessor's records.


"It actually did use his name, so I thought i was talking to the right person. I thought it was all legit." said Ricky


The owner would only communicate by e-mail and asked Ricky to put down $1,200 up front. He wanted it wired Walmart to Walmart


Ricky was prepared to send the cash, until he stopped by the house and saw a real estate sign. He said he called the agent, who told him it was all a scam.


Ricky said "That would have broke us. It would have hurt us bad."


The house was never for rent. Realtor Don Plourde said this is the third time one of his company's listings has been targeted in as many months. He added "We're getting more of them lately and it just seems to be an issue."


He said the photos sent to Ricky were taken straight from his website.


Anytime his agents become aware of a scam like this, they immediately alert Craigslist and police. Unfortunately, there's nothing else they can do except warn the public about red flags.


It's typically a lower than market rent you see and real estate sign out front.


Plourde encourages everyone to call the real estate company directly, just like Ricky did.


Plourde said vacant homes are most often targeted in these types of schemes. One step owners can take is to photograph the inside with furniture still there.