How can you avoid being scammed by fraudulent advertising? One good way is to do business with local businesses or owners. The first red flag is when the person you are dealing with is not local. The second is if they want you to wire money to them without seeing the property or having a lease agreement. A third would be if the deal sounds too good then you should question it and dig deeper into who you are dealing with.
There was a time when our company used to advertise our vacant rentals on craigslist. We now have a robust syndication of more than 100 sites to advertise our properties.
At the time we would occasionally get a call from an anxious prospective renter. They had been told to go view a property listing by an out of the country owner.
The prospect would show up at the property and see our sign in the front yard. Fortunately for them, they would call the number on the sign and find out they were about to get scammed.
Unscrupulous foreign scammers take a legitimate craigslist ad or one from Zillow or another source and copy it changing the rent price and contact information. The scam seemed more prevalent because craigslist was a go-to site as advertising was transitioning from newspapers to online.
The prospective renter had usually been told the price was about $500 less than market rent and that it included utilities. Because we had a sign on the property, and they had the common sense to call they were saved the embarrassment and loss of the deposit monies that the scammer would have requested that they send via certified funds. Be aware of who you are dealing to avoid being taken advantage of.