SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WGGB) — By the sounds of the Craigslist ad, a three bed, three bath Starling Road home in Springfield sounds like a steal to rent.
We emailed the poster for more details, and William Rainford quickly got back to us. He told us he needed a $750 deposit wired to him as a deposit, but that he wasn’t in town so he emailed photos of inside the home to us and asked us to drive by to see the outside.
We did, and found a John Pedro Realty sign sitting on the front lawn.
255 Starling Road is for sale.
William Rainford knew we’d be suspicious. In an email he said he fired John Pedro Realty and just hadn’t taken the sign down yet. He asked we not contact John Pedro, but we did. John Pedro says it’s all a lie. William Rainford isn’t the homeowner.
“I’m shocked that there is a few people out there that take advantage of unfortunate people, they’re not aware of these scams,” John Pedro said.
Pedro says Rainford likely stole photos of the home through a realtor database.
“The alarming (thing) is that they actually have access to our photos on the multiple listing service somehow and using this information is totally illegal.”
When we pressed Rainford for answers regarding our suspicions, he cut off contact with us. The same thing happened when we tried to rent this home on Russell Street and this one on Weaver Road. In each case, the scammer was out of the area for work, but wanted us to quickly wire them money because we were in competition for these bargain rentals.
“In Springfield I know of at least three in the last couple of months where people got bilked out of their money,” Springfield Police Sgt. John Delaney said.
Delaney says if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
“If you’re not meeting somebody face to face and you’re not dealing with a reputable real estate agent and your dealing with somebody you don’t know over a telephone, over the internet, don’t do it,” he said.
John Pedro, meanwhile, is contacting other realtors and Craigslist to try to slow down the scammers. He has this message for consumers.
“Tenant be aware. Buyer be aware,” he said. “Just to make sure that they know who they’re dealing with as a realtor and homeowner.”
If you find a suspected scam artist, Sgt. Delaney advises contacting the police. He says detectives often will set up scam artists to try to charge them.