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Scammers steal Airbnb pictures for fake post

Posted at 9:43 PM, Aug 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-13 23:55:54-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — Imagine renting an "exquisite" one-bedroom, one-bathroom home in the heart of the Crossroads for $900 a month.

According to a Craigslist ad, the owner even allows cats and dogs.

The only problem? It's too good to be true.

Kansas City police said the actual owner of the property posted it on Airbnb, but a scammer pulled the pictures and tried to collect cash from renters.

333 Rent Property Manager Phillip Syrios first ran into a similar scam in 2013. He and his coworkers deal with the aftermath when crooks create fake posts for their properties.

"They'll sometimes come to our office expecting us to refund their money, and we don't even know who they are," Syrios said of victims.

Scammers typically target houses for rent. If you're in the market for a long-term rental, here's what Syrios said to watch out for:

  • Being asked to put down a deposit before you've met or at least spoken with someone;
  • An offer of all utilities paid, which is rare for a house;
  • Excuses as to why you can't see the property in person;
  • Listings with no restrictions on the number of animals you can have.

If you find a promising property on Craigslist, be sure to look for it on other websites.

"These ads almost never appear on Trulia or Zillow," Syrios said. "They're a lot harder to get away with on websites like that."

He also advised property owners to watermark any pictures included in a listing to make it more difficult for scammers to reuse them.

However, some scammers even can find a way around that problem, and it can be difficult to get fake ads removed.

"There's little we can do when we see one of our properties being a scam," Syrios said. "Normally, we just have to flag the post (and) hope it gets taken down quickly."

41 Action News reached out to Craigslist about this issue, but we had not heard back by the time of publication.