AMARILLO, TX - Imagine locating your dream home online just to find out it's a scam.
"They are stealing pictures from the online listings and using those pictures to post on Craigslist," Janna Kiehl with the Better Business Bureau said. "Once they do that, they now have a real property and a real home address."
This makes for a real problem that local realtors are well aware of.
"It's hard for us because we see clients get hurt and lose money," Chris Lyons with Lyons Realty said.
Houses that are generally listed for sale by a real estate agency are being stolen by scammers who copy and paste the same pictures, video tour links and addresses on Craigslist.
"Realtors have issues because the property they have for sale is being listed for rent," Kiehl explained.
Greg Glenn with Prudential says customers are lured in with the promise of a low deposit or down payment.
"It's frustrating because our clients are getting taken for something that's bogus," Glenn said.
The offer may sound attractive, but Lyons Realty says don't be fooled.
"A lot of people want to believe it because the rent is good," Lyons said. "On a property that would traditionally rent for maybe $1,500 a month would be offered for $800 a month.
The Better Business Bureau says you should not only be skeptical for an offer that sounds too good to be true, but also be on the lookout for any listing requesting you send money up front before seeing the property.
"As long as there are people who are responding to these ads, the scam will continue to be successful," Kiehl said.