LOCAL REALTOR CAUGHT IN INTERNATIONAL SCAM

Updated: 10/17/2008 10:15
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A legitimate ad for a rental property in Chesterfield is used to try and rip people off A third party intercepted the ad, posted it

A legitimate ad for a rental property in Chesterfield is used to try and rip people off. A third party intercepted the ad, posted it on Craigslist posing as a realtor to get the first months rent. CBS 6 News has learned this is not the first time.

Kerstin Stoval says she says internet scammers tried to rip people off using her name after she posted an ad on a rental property website. She says a scammer tried to get potential renters to send a $400 deposit plus $800 for the first month's rent, then he would send them the keys. It's a story she wants all potential renters to hear.

Just a day after Kerstin Stoval posted and ad for her Brandermill property online. A couple showed up at her front door. They'd come to check out this house after seeing it on Craigslist for $800 a month.

"I told them $1225 and they said that's a lot, that's more than the $800 that was posted on Craigslist. And then I told them that I never posted it on Craigslist, and they said they'd even corresponded with me by email and I said no, it wasn't me you were corresponding with," says Kerstin Stoval.

One more house visit, and about eight phone calls later Stoval realized someone even created a Yahoo! account in her name. When the scammer was contacted by potential renters via that fake email account he said he was on an extended business trip in Africa. And he encouraged them to visit the property.

But when renters got there and saw a for sale sign with the real owners number, they called and found out a completely different story. Stoval said one potential renter thought the man's story sounded fishy, so she looked up the tax records found Stoval's name and called her at home.

"Alot of people did a drive by that's when they realized the owner, she's not in Africa," says Stoval. Stoval even emailed the fake Kerstin inquiring about renting the property. "The fake me emailed me back, kinda bizarre," says Stoval.

"They never caught on., they even went ahead and send me an application to fill out." Though she thinks it's unlikely the scammers will ever be caught, Stoval alerted authorities and hopes her story will help potential renters from falling victim.

Stoval contacted Craigslist and had them remove the ad. She also filed an internet fraud complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

We contacted the FTC - they were closed for the Columbus Day holiday. We plan to follow up with them to see how many other complaints they've had involving this scam.


About the author

Brett Sherpan has been working for seven years writing and editing for online and print media. He has held various editing and copywriting positions and can quickly and competently write copy for sales, marketing and editorial content. Brett is a consistently dependable team player, who thrives in a high-pressure environment, enjoying the challenges of meeting deadlines and am comfortable researching, writing and editing on a wide range of topics
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