Craigslist housing scam cheats local man out of $5,500

In many cities, renting a two-bedroom home for $2,750 a month is fairly common, if not expensive. But in Steamboat Springs, one resident thought the deal was so good it was worth a shot.

“Here at Steamboat, when something pops up, you kind of have to jump on it,” said Noah Booth, who saw the ad on Craigslist an hour after it was posted.

The headline of the ad read, “Private Cabin in the Beautiful Downtown Steamboat!” Best location in the old town!”

The listing photos looked professional, showcasing hardwood floors, granite countertops, and a beautiful view of Soda Creek. He even said the house was pet-friendly, which Booth needed because he had a dog.

Booth lived in Hayden and he often traveled to Steamboat for work. His girlfriend was offered a teaching job at Steamboat Springs High School, which would have been just down the street from their new home, if Craigslist’s ad wasn’t fake.

The headline and photos were all ripped from an article on the website, a short-term rental site, but the scammer took the liberty of tacking on the name of a fictitious real estate company, ” Noble Private Property”.

The real owner of the property, Robbie Shine, has noticed that his VRBO listing has been duplicated and posted on Craigslist for some time now.

He said the post would be flagged for deletion, then deleted, only to reappear 10 days later, as that was the minimum time before it could be reposted.

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Booth responded to the ad on April 13. Booth recalled that he and the scammer communicated regularly via text, during which Booth said the scammer was very quick to respond to messages and didn’t write with a ton of spelling and grammar errors. blatant, as it is. often the case with online scams.

The scammer demanded payment for the first and last month’s rent — or $5,500 — via money order or Zelle, a payment service similar to Venmo that has been used in numerous scams nationwide.

After Booth sent a money order, he and the scammer continued to communicate for a while, which seemed like a good sign at the time. However, the channel went silent on May 8.

Last Booth heard from, the scammer said he was expecting the current tenants to move out on May 15. Booth visited the property on Wednesday, May 18, and by then he knew there was a good chance it was a scam. .

“I just wanted to get an answer, basically,” Booth said.

He hoped to see the house empty, but instead it was occupied by nightly tenants.

Booth knocked on the door and explained his situation. Shine, who lives nearby, approached Booth and heard his story.

The two talked for nearly an hour, and Shine felt so bad that he offered to start a gofundme page to raise money for Booth. Shine also offered Booth $1,000, which Booth appreciated but declined.

“He’s a good young man,” Shine said, understanding why Booth felt he had to move quickly to secure the rental. “I think the market is so crazy that people have to react like that.”

Booth and Shine contacted the police, who opened an investigation. The routing number Booth received was international, so he’s unlikely to get his money back. Booth now plans to work several more months to save money to pay for another rental.

sergeant. Evan Noble of the Steamboat Springs Police Department warned against sending money to people the sender has not yet met. Buyers on Craigslist should also pay attention to the details of each transaction and be aware of signs that it might be a scam.

If anyone thinks they’ve come across a scam, they can flag the post at the top of the page and email Craigslist at [email protected].

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