Craigslist rental scam snatches money from Vero Beach man

Craigslist rental scam targeting Sebastian and Vero Beach, Florida.
Craigslist rental scam targeting Sebastian and Vero Beach, Florida.

VERO BEACH – The Craigslist rental scam has taken money from a Vero Beach man after he started moving his personal items into a home.

Richard Cook of Vero Beach saw a house for rent on Craiglist but never thought it was a scam. He called the landlord, Ramezan Alireza, who claimed he owned the property.

The landlord asked Cook to send him $700 through Walmart money exchange as a first month’s rent down payment, and he would send the keys. Cook went to Walmart and sent the $700.

When you send money through Walmart, it can be picked up at any store in the United States, and it’s usually how money exchanges in the Craigslist rental scam

There was also good news for Cook, he did receive a lease contract and the backdoor to the home was unlocked. So, he moved his items into the new residence.

However, everything changed for Cook after he called the realtor number on the sign that was posted in the front yard.

“The realtor advised him this house was not for rent on Craigslist and not for that price,” the deputy said.

Cook then tried to contact Alireza to get his money back, but he never responded. Unfortunately, Cook didn’t have any other information about the alleged landlord other than a phone number and an email address generated by Craigslist.

Cook then showed the deputy the signed lease from the landlord, which wasn’t signed by hand. Instead, it was typed on a computer.

The Indian River County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating the case.

Craigslist rental scams are now targeting people in Sebastian and Vero Beach. When the “owner” insists on payment in advance and wants the funds sent by wire transfer, don’t do it. That’s a dead giveaway.

Legitimate landlords will arrange a tour of the interior. They usually accept a personal check, cashier’s check or money order for the first month’s rent and security. Never send advanced payment. Money shouldn’t change hands until a lease is signed.

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About Andy Hodges
Andy Hodges was born in Annapolis, Maryland. When he was age 9, his parents moved to Jupiter, Florida. Andy spent several years at various radio & television stations in Florida such as WLIZ, WFLX-FOX 29, WIRK, WIXI, WKSY, WRMF, and WJNO to name a few. In 1994, Andy made a career change to computer programming and worked for several technology companies (two are Fortune 500) in Atlanta, Georgia. However, Andy returned to Florida and settled in the small town of Sebastian in 2002. In 2005, he returned to the broadcasting news sector and eventually joined our news team in 2016 as editor in chief. Andy's family has lived in Sebastian for more than 45 years.