From the District Attorney’s Office:

The Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office recently received notification from the Humboldt Association of Realtors about a possible rental scam. We are sharing this information to help citizens avoid being defrauded.

In the example cited by the Humboldt Association of Realtors, a Humboldt County home on Craig’s List under the heading “House on Farm Land” was listed for rent at $875/month with an $875 deposit. The listing included both interior and exterior photographs, a rental application, and a backstory about a family being transferred overseas. Interested parties were encouraged to contact the property owner at phone numbers outside the United States. With this legitimate-looking offer, the scammers were hoping to receive rent and a deposit for a home that either does not exist or that they do not own.

We encourage people to be cautious in real estate dealings to avoid scams; warning signs include:

1. The offer appears too good to be true
2. Communication is only offered through email (usually Hotmail or Yahoo) or international phone numbers.
3. You do not get timely answers to questions asked via phone or email.
4. People making the offer indicate they are out of state or even out of the country.

Finally, we suggest that to protect yourself in real estate dealings, always do an additional check of the availability of the property you’re interested in with either the local realtors association or a professional property management company.