Police Warn About Rental Scams on Craiglist

A new homeowner in Lewiston, Maine, got an unusual welcome to the neighborhood: a stream of strangers peering in her windows and knocking on her door, asking if the house was for rent.

"Honestly I felt kind of violated," said Lisa Fransden.

She was the victim of an online rental scam. Someone had taken photos of her house, created a fake Craigslist ad, and told interested renters to stop by and check out the property whenever they pleased.

Fransden decided to send a strong message, posting "no trespassing" signs around her house, and making a sign for her front yard that says in part: "This house is not for rent. Some scum bag fraudulently listed my house on Craigslist."

"I was mad, so I added the scum bag," said Fransden.

After reporting it to police and the website, the ad was taken down. Lewiston police said they traced it back to a computer in California, but there is little they can do.

Realtor Matt Freeman said his client did all the right things, and hopes renters searching for listings online will recognize red flags in fraudulent posts.

Freeman said people should be wary when posters say they are out of town and cannot personally show you the property, or ask for money before signing a lease.

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