ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla — There are few homes available, with many people looking to buy or rent.
It’s the right set up for scammers to roll out the welcome mat and take your money, according to realtors.
Kathleen Floryan is a realtor in St. Johns County for eXe Realty. She's been in the business for 16 years.
In the last few weeks, a client wanted to sell a home in St. Augustine Beach. So Floryan put it on the market.
I get this call from a woman in New York who was desperate," Floryan told First Coast News.
That woman in New York had the impression the home in the St. Augustine Beach and Tennis Club was for rent, but it wasn't. It was for sale.
The woman who called had found a listing on Craigslist, for the same home, and the listing said it was for rent.
The woman from New York was ready to send the man who posted the property on Craigslist $2,100 in order to secure the home.
But before sending money, "she Googled the property address and found it for sale. She found my name associated with it," Floryan said.
Floryan then put the pieces together and discovered that another man – a scammer not associated with the property – had made the Craigslist post.
"He even stole my description, saying it's a "seven-minute walk to the beach," Floryan pointed to the Craigslist post.
She said within 48 hours, eight people almost fell for the listing on Craigslist, with money in hand.
Floryan knows this scam is not new, "But this is the first time it’s happened to me." And she believes the low-inventory market is prime for scammers.
“The desperation is crazy," Floryan told First Coast News. "People can’t find a home to buy. So they say, 'I will rent for a while.' They go out and take a look for rentals. The rentals aren’t there either. So when the (rentals) do come up or pop up, they don’t know whether it’s valid or not."
Floryan’s advice if you’re looking for a home to rent or buy is to first google the property because that’s how this case started to unravel.
Floryan also suggests deal with a licensed realtor or property manager, especially if it's a sigh-unseen situation.
"You need to show up to the property to make sure it exists."