TAMPA -- Picture this.
You’re living in say, Michigan. You see photos for a condo on Clearwater Beach for just $150 a night. A deal that they just can’t pass up. But once they got here, their reservation was nowhere to be found. Police say everyday people across the county are falling for a scam like this.
“I’ve had about 5 this week and that will increase exponentially, now that we are in spring break,” says Detective Rob Lazzaro with the Clearwater Police Department.
Detective Lazzaro says one browse through the website, craigslist, and he can find a deal too good to be true.
“What the suspects are doing, they are going to websites to collect information on houses or condos sold over the past year. I found that good portion of them is coming from Zillow. They’ll then copy a description of property and create rental ads,” says Det. Lazzaro.
He says there are ways to recognize that this is not a real deal.
“The first thing you can do is copy one or 2 photos from Craigslist add and search google images and that will bring up the photo that shows the home sold recently for a million dollars. That is a huge red flag. You can also copy text from description and paste it in google and word to word bring up sale. You have to do research,” says Det. Lazzaro.
Detective Lazzaro says for anyone looking to get away, he knows deals like these are enticing, but you have to be smart before you say deal.
“I wouldn’t use craigslist, not to rent any property because craigslist is up to be anonymous because there’s no way to find if these people are real,” says Det. Lazarro.