Sherman police warn of Craigslist rental property scammer

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SHERMAN, Texas (KXII) -- You can find a number of postings online for properties for rent, but with any unverified post also comes the chance of being scammed. Monday, Sherman police got a report of one of these scams.

The victim's only contact with the scammer was online. The house was real, even listed for sale, but the owner wasn't renting, and this isn't the first time it's happened around here.

"We have had incidents in Sherman, where people's houses at random have been put up for rent, when in actuality someone owns the house and they're living there," Sherman Police Department Lt. Bruce Dawsey said.

A woman in Sherman was looking for a rental property on Craigslist this past week and found one in Leonard.

"She was advised by the Craigslist add poster not to contact the real estate company," Dawsey said.

The scammer acted as the property owner, saying he had a falling out with the realtor, and to send him a $100 money order for a deposit.

The victim believed the story and sent the money, but the deal was too good to be true. The money was sent to a scammer and the house is not actually for rent.

"I'm an agent, my home is for sale, but don't call this number, well that's a red flag, if you're open and honest, why wouldn't you want me to call you," Donnie J Neill said.

Donnie J Neill is a realtor in Sherman.

"Why not call an area realtor who's licensed, cause we actually have greater asset abilities then y'all do to find the new listings," Neill said.

He also said it's important to document everything on paper and meeting in person is preferred, but if you're online, always verify the listing, especially with Craigslist. Sherman police agree.

"Check with the real estate agents, make sure it is a legit rental property," Dawsey said.

"Is my face turning red?" Neill said. "That's how I feel about it, let's not victimize people."

Police said they tracked the emails and addresses as far as they could, but it landed them overseas. Though they are at a dead end with a suspect, they want to use this story to prevent the scam from happening again.