Local I-Team Uncovers Craigslist House Rental Scam

Local News

A warning tonight from the State of Tennessee regarding scammers using Craigslist to rent homes they don’t even own. And it’s not just Tennessee. It’s happening across the Mid-South.

Local I-Team senior investigator Jeni Diprizio found one of those deals too good to be true in Mississippi.

This Olive Branch home was just put up for sale late last week, and within days Vivian Cao’s phone was ringing off the hook.

“Probably about ten people call me saying there is a posting on Craigslist,” said Cao.

The calls were not from people wanting to buy the house. Instead, the calls were from people who saw this home for rent in an ad on Craigslist.

Cao is the realtor selling the home and says the ad is bogus. The house is not for rent.

“It’s my sign, there is my picture and my phone, they can always call me,” Cao.

Cao says whoever posted the ad is a scammer.

“I think it’s a shame, you know. I don’t know why they can’t make an honest living instead of trying to scam people.”

The ad claims the house is for rent for $700 a month with all utilities included.

Someone claiming to be a pastor named Kevin Gilliam says he is the owner and claims to work as a missionary for the United Methodist Church.

He claims he planned to sell the home, but instead is renting it out at below market value because he is part of a Christian family and wants the home to be a blessing to the person or family who rents it.

And in an email to a potential renter, he claims the sign out front is just the realtors.

Ads like these are why the Tennessee Department of Consumer Affairs is concerned about scammers turning to Craigslist to make a quick buck.

“Remember the age old saying, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. If the listing that you see on Craigslist sounds like a great deal and the price is just a steal, your red flag should go up,” said Clair Marsalis with the Tennessee Department of Consumer Affairs.

We tried to call the number listed but it went straight to voicemail.

Cao was lucky enough to get someone on the line and gave him a piece of her mind.

“I said you need to stop it. I am the listing agent for that house and you’re not the owner, so stop scamming people.”

Cao says he hung up. She only hopes the scammer didn’t get anyone’s money.

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