Nothing frustrates our members more than dealing with a Craigslist scam. As the market heats up and listings increase, there are more and more Craigslist scams taking place where the listing gets hi-jacked and posted as a rental.
Agents walk a fine line between complying with IDX and making sure that their listings aren’t “stolen” or scraped by Craigslist in the marketing remarks. These Craigslist hi-jackers are scraping the data from the internet – NOT DIRECTLY FROM THE MLS, BUT FROM THE MANY WEBSITE SYNDICATIONS – and they are taking the pictures, the basic info and the marketing description (that is all they have access to are these public fields) and re-listing the property as a rental scam.
There are three ways to deal with it:
1. Make sure that you, and everyone else you know, are “flagging” the listing in Craigslist as spam. Click in the top right corner. The more that people click on it, the quicker Craigslist will take it down.
2. Put somewhere in your marketing remarks the following verbiage: “This listing is not for rent or a rental listing, if you are finding this posted on Craigslist, please proceed with caution, as it may be a scam.” The scammers don’t have time to read the marketing remarks of each listing that they scrape from syndicated sites all over the world. So they will likely not remove that verbiage, because they haven’t read it. But the end user searching out rental property on Craigslist will read the description in full. Often Craigslist viewers will flag the listing too for you if they realize it’s a scam. Please remember that it is violation of IDX to place any type of contact information in the marketing remarks of any listing. Avoid branding fines by making sure that no information or links lead to your contact information.
3. Report the internet fraud to the FBI. There is a link here to where you can report the crime.
I know it’s not the sexiest to put item #2 in the marketing remarks of the gorgeous home, but right now it is the best option I have to tell agents to protect their listings from these scammers as well as still be in compliance with IDX rules and not putting any agent contact information in the remarks.
Please note that GSBOR/Springfield MLS does not syndicate directly to Craigslist.
Syndication is a tricky issue, if you have further questions, don’t hesitate to send them to [email protected] and we will do our best to get them answered.
NAR posted a 5-minute video on how to get really techie with setting up Google Alerts to notify you of rental scams. Because you are notified about it right way with the alert, you can act right away to flag the listing as a scam. You can check out that video here.