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.