Speaking from experience as a property manager, I cannot begin to count the number of times our brokerage firm has identified home rental scams, particularly on Craigslist.
The scamsters place rental ads for foreclosed homes before they are sold. They lure would-be renters into providing personal financial information, and if they get far enough, rent deposits. The victims have no idea that the homes are not for rent (or at the very least not being listed by the scammers) until they move in and find the keys won’t work. In some cases, the fraudster changes the locks and the renters move in, only to be evicted later by the foreclosure real estate listing agent and the local sheriff.
The scams aren’t just limited to the foreclosure market but are also visible in property management as well. The scammers would also use the same process as they would a foreclosure.
Make sure that the homes are actually for sale by driving by the homes and look for “for-sale” signs and calling up the real estate listing agent to confirm its status. Checking county land records also can confirm who owns the house.