YONKERS, N.Y. (CBS 2) — Imagine trying to find a place to live, only to be duped into handing over hundreds of dollars.
Police in Yonkers say scammers — posing as realtors — used Craigslist to advertise rental properties to prospective tenants, setting up appointments and meeting their victims at the locations.
They also chose properties that were under renovation, where workers were going in and out so that they were fooled as well, CBS 2′s John Slattery reports.
Yonkers Police Commissioner Edmund Hartnett says the scammers were individuals who were “very good at what they do.”
“We feel that the thieves scam their way into the place by telling the workers that they are bona fide rental agents, Hartnett said, “therefore, they don’t get confronted when they bring the people back to show the property.”
The phony agents also came back with the renters telling them that payments were needed in order for them to hold the apartment or house.
“They are then told to leave a specific sum of money, either cash or cashier’s check for 500 or a thousand dollars,” Hartnett said.
When they go to move in, they find they’ve been cheated. Its happened at least three times in Yonkers, and in surrounding areas as well. To avoid being cheated, authorities advised prospective tenants to check websites, like the Westchester-Putnam Association of Realtors.
“Make some phone calls. Make sure [you are] dealing with legitimate, bona fide real estate people.”
Police say Craigslist is not involved and the website is working with police to try to find out who is behind the fraud.