If you go on zillow.com you'll find the three bedroom house on 2204 General Taylor Drive sells for $165-thousand, but some people interested in the property say they found it on Craigslist as a rental.

Reed Ebarb of Remax Real Estate Services in Shreveport is the agent for the listed home. He says two people contacted him about the property.saying they wired money to the Craigslist poster.

"It was a scam and they we're saying, if you'll wire me this money, if you'll overnight me this money, I'll overnight you the keys back. And that's where the problem came in," said Ebarb.

Jason Britton was one of two would-be-renters. He says the Craigslist poster was initially asking for $1,600 but he was able to negotiate.

"He told me I can send him seven hundred dollars, first for the deposit, and then I'd send him the rest of the money once i get the keys and the documents," said Britton.

Britton waited for the keys and documents, but they didn't come the next morning. Instead, he got a text from the Craigslist poster, asking for more money. 

Ebarb says he deals with this scam on a regular basis. 

"This happens at least once a month... but this is the first time I've had somebody that's actually been scammed and sent the money up there."

Caddo Shreveport Financial Crimes Task Force investigator, Bobby Herring says the rental scam is all too common.

"Often, the scammers use some type of a story that they're out of the country or they're deployed in the military and they're not available in country, so this is all done by email or by phone," said Herring.

He adds that in some cases people are asked to change the locks or hire a locksmith to get in.

"You never want to do that. One they don't own the property and you are literally breaking into a home that doesn't belong to you," said Herring.

Thankfully, Britton's story has a good ending. He filed a report with the Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office, did some digging on his own, and ultimately got his money back after tracking down the middle man whom he says is the victim of an online dating scam.  

Sgt. Herring says most people aren't so lucky.

"Occasionally we're able to recoup money, but  more often than not, these victims are left without their money, and there's nobody for us to arrest or prosecute in these cases," said Herring.

If you go on craigslist there's a whole page on how to avoid scams, but authorities did leave us a list as well. He says people need to do their research and use reputable real estate websites. He also suggests working with a licensed realtor or real estate agent.

"We always tell the person to go and check the home out. You can drive over and physically inspect the home and often, almost always you'll see a realtor sign up out there," added Herring.

Britton says he's learned his lesson and he's planning to do just that the next time around, "so I can actually see the home, know what it looks like, and I get to meet you before I buy it, or rent it."

Caddo Shreveport Financial Crimes Task Force welcomes people to call them if they think they are being scammed. Sgt. Herring said they can almost immediately recognize a scam when they see or hear about it.


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