From the daily Craigslist police blotter: a young Arizona family lost all their savings when they answered a Craiglist ad for a four-bedroom home in Phoenix.
They showed up to the house ($1,000 a month, includes pool), took a tour, signed a lease and paid the $1,500 deposit in cash. Then, they took a celebratory dip in the pool with the kids. At this point, you probably know where this one is going.
When they showed up that weekend to move in, of course, they found the owner of the property, the real landlord, was not the person who had taken their money. Phoenix police are investigating.
This isn’t as elaborate as the last Craigslist scam to make headlines — the Oregon family that had their possessions sold, without their permission, on the site. But it’s one of the dozens of petty crimes that actually make headlines just because it was connected, somehow, to Craigslist. If that ad is placed in the Arizona Republic, it doesn’t make the news, but it’s a free ad on listing service, it becomes “a rental scam you need to know about before you get taken too” on KTVK’s “News At 9 pm.”
Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster told us he’s used to it. He says he makes a point of reading the “crimes on Craigslist” headlines on Google News. Jim says his company “take[s] personally the misuse of Craigslist by criminal element,” but he’s more amazed how few crimes appear to be committed using Craigslist, given that 35 million new classified ads run on the service each month. How has the Craigslist community has managed to keep a semblance of its ethos even as it expands to encompass every aspect–even unsavory aspects–of society? Hard to know. But because Phoenix is one of Craigslist’s fastest-growing cities, expect local newspeople to work through their distrust of it.
But it turns out, Craigslist-like karma was at work, even for our Phoenix family of nine (!). The owners of the house in question took pity on them and decided … to let them stay! They’re working with them on the rent and were so touched by their plight they threw in August as a freebee.