Snowbird couple victimized by $2,100 Craigslist scam

Posted at 9:41 PM, Feb 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-03 16:06:22-05

A snowbird couple visiting from New York has a $2,100 lesson they want to share with you, so you don't become a victim yourself.

The Fields are in Port St. Lucie a month ahead of schedule. Their plan was to spend February in Sarasota, where their oldest daughter booked a ocean front stay on Craigslist -- or so they thought.

They didn't realize they had been duped until they tried to check in with the contract and proof of payment.

"She said this wasn't real. That it wasn't so," victim Mary Field said.

Burgess Field says, "She asked me, she said, 'What did you pay for it?' I say, '$2,100.' She says, 'You can't find a place here for that price. You got to double that.'"

Their daughter, Lisa, exchanged a series of emails with a man named Stewart about the property. At one point, Lisa negotiated the rent down, and Stewart agreed since they are senior citizens.

Inside those emails, the first red flag. Craigslist says you can spot scams by grammar and spelling mistakes from the seller. The email exchange is littered with mistakes.

Another red flag, he only accepts cash deposits or wire transfers, which they sent all the way back in October.

"We sent bank to bank, found the right bank and sent the cash," Mary Field said.

They moved into their Port St. Lucie rental place Thursday after finding it on Craigslist. This time, only agreed to move in, once they verified it was legit.

"We don't think we'll ever get the money back but if this helps somebody else from getting scammed. That's all we can do," Burgess Field says.

One more way you can make sure a rental is real, call the local chamber of commerce and ask them to verify.