Rental house hoax: Pensacola woman finds her home listed 'for rent' online
WEST PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR) —
A Pensacola woman says she found her home listed ‘for rent’ online. Now, she's dealing with the consequences and is warning others about the scam.
Three bedrooms, one bathroom, newly remodeled and it's renting for just $600 a month. Sound too good to be true? It is. And the people who actually live at this home on 57th Avenue are furious.
Rhonda Trafford first learned about the Craigslist post on Monday, after a woman knocked on her front door inquiring about the ad.
"I was like well, ma'am, it's not for rent… and she refused to leave, so I took a picture of her tag,” said Trafford. “Then the next night she was sitting in the driveway and it's became a pretty scary situation."
Trafford spoke with another person who came to look at her house. He gave her a phone number tied to the ad. She tried calling while our cameras were rolling. There was no answer, but the voicemail recording let us know it's a virtual phone number.
Trafford has talked to the man allegedly behind the ad. He told her he was the owner of the home and had been for five years; the deed to the house says otherwise. Now, the home is for sale. In fact, the photo and description on the ad were taken from the real listing, posted on a real estate website, not Craigslist.
"In his ad, it says to ignore the realtor sign,” said Trafford. “The realtor fees were too high."
We responded to the posting, but didn't get a reply. We also reached out to Craigslist for comment, we're still waiting to hear back. When she didn't hear back, Trafford says she filed a report with the Escambia County Sheriff's Office.
"If you're utilizing someone's address, their name or anything like that for a fraud purpose, that's a felony,” said Sergeant James Hall.
Hall says they typically see a rise in these type of scams ahead of summer, but catching the culprit is easier said than done. It starts with a subpoena in order to get an IP address.
"People use mobile phones, they use mobile hot spots, they use burner phones, they use all these other things, so by the time we even get that information, it's so stale, it's generally not any good,” said Hall.
Hall recommends victims of these types of scams put up 'no trespassing' signs, install fencing and take other steps to secure their property, and most importantly: report the crime, so law enforcement can track similar patterns.
Trafford says she's already done all of these.
"Our hands are tied,” said Trafford. “We've never been in a situation like this, and we don't know what to do."
Hall told us the case is still under investigation. If they don't hear back from the sheriff's office or Craigslist, the Traffords say their next move will be to hire legal representation.