Fake online listings becoming a growing problem

Posted at 6:19 PM, Dec 09, 2016

More people are falling victim to fake rental listings on website like Craigslist in Florida.

Since January 2015, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's office has received more than 75 complaints about long-term rentals.

"My office often receives complaints about scammers taking advantage of homeowners by hijacking information and photos from legitimate rentals sites to post fake ads," Bondi said. "It can be very difficult to decipher which are legitimate."

Tampa Resident Jared Greenbaum recently learned his home was falsely listed for rent on Craigslist.

"You would never expect it to happen to you," he told ABC Action News.

The problem got so bad he had to place signs in his front yard warning people that his home was not for rent.

"A few times, people have actually driven by while I was outside and asked it if was for rent," he said.

As a potential buyer or renter, Eric Olsen with Hillsborough County Consumer Protection said you need to see if the list price just seems too good to be true.

He also said if you are asked to wire money or if the listing agent will not meet you in person, beware.

"Consumers need to be very careful how they are doing business online because people can make up anything with a good picture and a good story," Olsen said.

As for homeowners who find their homes falsely listed, Olsen said report the fake ad immediately to the website so it can be taken down.

The Florida Attorney General's Office also said to call and report it at 1 (866)9NO-SCAM.

Greenbaum was able to have the ad removed, but said he still feels concerned the scammers could just put the ad up again.