Craigslist Scam Nearly Drains People of Hundreds of Dollars

Craigslist Scam

Dendea Balli is a broker at Coldwell Banker on Griffin Parkway in Mission and has listings across the valley. One in particular is catching a lot of attention of potential renters on Craigslist.

"I had 7 tenants call me yesterday about my property listing," said Balli.

Anna Rivera in Tennessee spotted the hot deal on Craigslist and quickly replied to the listing posted not by Balli the broker, but by a man allegedly named Ricardo.

"He told me to wire the money tonight and he would Fed Ex the keys to the house tomorrow," said Rivera.

She got suspicious when the man claiming to be the owner of the house in Edinburg had a distinct accent and not of a Hispanic man.

"He ended up calling me and told me how to get the money to him and how he wanted me to take care of the house. He said he was doing missionary work and would be back in 5 years. He did not sound Hispanic and the number he called me from was in South Africa," said Rivera.

Then he told her to wire the money to an address in Nigeria.

A man named Ricardo is the owner of the home which is one of Coldwell Banker's listings, but the man on the phone in Nigeria has nothing to do with the rental other than trying to scam people out of their money.

"I had my uncle in the valley go by the house and that's when he saw the realtor's sign outside," said Rivera.

Balli started getting a slew of phone calls from people asking about the great deal and realized immediately there was a scam after Rivera sent her the email correspondence between her and the man from Craigslist.

"Two of the people knocked on my door because they were inquiring about the $700 and I told them that it's for lease for $1,500," said Balli.

Rivera luckily didn't take the bait, but is worried someone else might.

That's why she and Balli are sounding an alarm to anyone looking to rent a property on Craigslist that if it seems too good to be true it probably is.

"I just want the public to know to really look at a legitimate agency, meet with the person, talk to the person and if it's for sale by owner make sure you know who this person is rather than sending these funds that you will never see again," said Balli.

Coldwell Banker has notified authorities.

We attempted to call the man in Nigeria, but were unable to get through.

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