Beware absent 'landlord' rental scam

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Scammers are using Craigslist real estate listings to steal money from unsuspecting would-be renters, according to an online posting emailed by Windermere Real Estate broker Doug Simcock in Walla Walla.

Usually the scammer poses as the owner of a property and often will search public tax records and create an email address with the real property owner's name.

The scammer then runs an ad on Craigslist stating that they are out of the area and that they will rent the property directly, often for less money.

Because the scammer is out of the area, they will ask the potential tenant to wire funds to a designated account. After the money is wired, tenants find out their lease is bogus and and their money is gone.

To protect themselves, the posting advised people to:

Deal locally with people you can meet.

Never wire funds via Western Union, Moneygram or any other wire service .

Do not rent housing without seeing the interior - in all likelihood that housing unit is not actually available for the advertised terms or available at all.

Do not submit to credit checks or background checks for housing until you have met the interviewer or landlord/agent in person.

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