It all starts with an ad on Craigslist for a home for rent. The ad looks legit. It's actually for a home in the Raleigh area, but there's a problem. The home is not for rent.
The quaint Raleigh home inside the Beltline has only been on the market a few weeks, but it's gotten a lot of activity.
"There was one time I was actually getting out of the shower, and there was somebody looking through my kitchen window," said homeowner Tim McInerney.
It was pretty scary for McInerney, especially since the person wasn't looking to buy his home, just rent it. McInerney's realtor got to the bottom of it.
"So, she talked to them and let them know the house was only for sale, not for rent, and found out that the ad for renting this house was on Craigslist," said McInerney.
A quick check on Craigslist and McInerney found several ads for his home.
"The person who was listing my house for rent was using my name to list the house for rent, hoping to, you know, take people's deposits basically," said McInerney.
He replied to the ad, and got an email back with his actual name as part of the email address.
"It makes me very mad, especially since he's using my legal name," said McInerney. "I mean, first and last name, to pose as the owner of the home. So, it makes me very, very angry."
The email goes on to state the home is available because they're doing missionary work in New York.
The email even included a rental application, and the rent is just $790 a month, which includes all utilities. If you want the home, you just send the first month's rent of $790, plus a $790 security deposit.
"He does go onto say the deposit is fully refundable if you don't like the house once you get inside, which I'm sure you'll never see that money again," said McInerney.
McInerney said he's flagged over 20 ads on Craigslist trying to put a stop to it.
"So, it's frustrating because I've flagged it so many times that the Craigslist system thinks that I'm attacking this person, because it tracks your IP address," said McInerney. "So, I can only flag it so many times. So, as this point I've had to have my friends all over the country go in and keep flagging it to keep it down every time it pops back up."
It's great that McInerney is speaking out as I have heard from viewers who have actually lost hundreds of dollars to this scheme.
How scammers do this, is basically to take the pictures and information from the listing of the home, and just use that for the ad on Craigslist.
The best advice, check out the home before giving any money. Don't wire or mail money, and make sure you meet with the owner in person to know exactly who you're giving money to.