Denver, CO. Craigslist is a useful resource for property managers to find tenants. It is also a useful source for criminals to find suckers. The most common scam in the rental market is to fraudulently advertise a property that one does not own or manage, and represent that they do. Often the perpetrator uses legitimate photos of actual properties for sale or rent, and advertises the property on Craigslist for a significantly reduced rent. Bad guys use Craigslist because it is very rarely monitored and the company relies on the community to police the site. Usually it does not work, and often the fraudulent ads get through. Unsuspecting tenants will reply to the ad and be sent on a wild goose chase of shady foreign emails, questionable money order drops, and creepy cash for keys communications.
Many property management companies do not use Craigslist because they don’t like to deal with the fraud. Unfortunately for many of these managers, their legitimate advertisements are the starting point for these scams. Property managers use their website, or another legitimate site to advertise a rental and post lots of great photos. With a few clicks of the mouse, a criminal owns the photos, and a new ad for the exact same property appears on Craigslist for 50% of the advertised price, a deal that is too good to be true. While most consumers will have the savvy to sniff out the amazing deal, many will not. Every year a new crop of brand new tenants hits the rental market and enough of them fall prey to the scam to keep the crooks in business. Even though this property manager decided not to use Craigslist, their properties made it there anyway. Often the property manager will only find out a few weeks later when their new tenant contacts them to move in. Then the fun really starts!
If you are a property manager, or investor and want these guys to pick on someone else, just watermark your images. These guys are lazy, and would rather take a nice clean image and use it for their scam. If you put your logo, company name and phone number on the image, 99.9% of the time they will move on to the next victim. In order to successfully rid the internet of unmarked images, you must watermark at the source. This means that your original photo upload must have the watermark. If you upload some images with a watermark and some without, those unmarked images can be used for fraud. Make sure that the images are watermarked prior to distributing them to other websites, or posting on Craigslist.
Our Property Management Website customers that use our Free Rental Site rental marketing platform get watermarking included with their other marketing tools. As their photos are uploaded, our software attaches a custom logo and custom message like the ones below. The logo and font sizes can be customized.
This logo and message are now a part of their image as they are passed on to our distribution network: Zillow, Trulia, HotPads, Vast, Trovit, and on our Craigslist converter. George Trombley with Blackbird Realty, a Las Vegas Property Management Company recently added watermarking to his website and remarked, “Our Craigslist problem disappeared immediately, and we haven’t dealt with this problem since.” Problem solved, no more fraud for Blackbird, and they can concentrate on growing their business. It really is that easy. If you are an existing customer and want to add watermarking to your listings, just contact us. If you are tired of Craigslist fraud and want it to stop, we can help. Contact us to get started.