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Contact 2: Dream House Scam

(KTVI)– Looking for an apartment?   If your search involves the internet, you want to watch out for leasing scams.   What looks good on paper turns out to be a real dud.  Fortunately a St. Louis woman sidesteps a clever rip off.   In searching for an apartment, Sarah Mosley went to Craigslist.  That’s where she found a beautiful house for rent in south St. Louis.

She tells Contact 2 the alleged owner claimed he was out of the country.

“He and his wife were in Nigeria doing some type of missionary work or something.  And once I sent him the money then he would send me the keys. “

Sarah received an email telling her she needed to pay first month’s rent and a six hundred dollar security deposit.  He wanted her to wire the money to him Africa.   He also included a link to the real estate website called Zillow .com.

“They had the pictures of the outside, and it had pictures of the interior.  600 dollars a month, I was like oh wow, utilities paid.”

Before Sarah paid anything she did a Google search

“When I went to Google, it was a totally different building  at that location.  And it had a picture of the building which wasn`t the building that was on Zillow.”

Sarah’s not blaming Zillow for the bogus listing.   But wonders if the scammer cut and paste pictures of the frame house to replace the picture of the brick structure actually listed o Zillow.

“Web searcher BEWARE.  If you`re not paying attention, you could get scammed.”
Zillow warns consumers about scams.  A sure sign is asking that money be wired.  Sarah is glad her excitement didn’t get the best of her.

“I know there are a lot of hardworking people, out there just like myself who do not have money to just send anywhere .  You know people are out there looking for places to stay, and with the economy the way it is we don`t have money to just giveaway.”

The obvious warning sign here was asking the prospective tenant to wire money sight unseen.   If your looking for a house or apartment using the internet, use common sense.   Drive to the property before you even reply to a listing.  And if you encounter scams notify the website

Contact us if you have a consumer issue.  Volunteers take calls Monday through Thursday  from        11am till 1pm.  The number is 1 800 782-2222.     You don’t want to waste your hard earned money on a house of cards.