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CALL 11 FOR ACTION: Protecting you from Craigslist rental scams

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DUNDEE, MI (Toledo News Now) -

The past six months have been a little difficult for Pam Daniels. Daniels is trying to get back on her feet and the last thing she wanted to worry about is losing money.

Daniels would have been out over $1,000 if she hadn't acted quickly.

Recently she responded to a Craigslist ad for a 2-bedroom 900-square-foot home in Dundee. Dan Henderson, the landlord listed on the ad, asked for $603 a month in rent. Daniels thought the rent was too good to be true, but she decided to go for it anyway.

Daniels says Henderson asked for her social security number and drivers license number. Plus, first month's rent and a security deposit. Daniels says that's when she knew something just wasn't right about Henderson's wants.

She decided to drive to the home and check it out for herself. Daniels says a number for Mike Begeman, a Coldwell Banker Realtor, was in the front yard. She called immediately.

"People get their hopes up to get a nice, decent house for $600 a month and turns out that isn't the case," Daniels said.

It turned out the home Daniels wanted was in the final stages of being sold by Coldwell Banker and according to Begeman, Dan Henderson does not own the property. Begeman believes Henderson copy and pasted pictures from Realtor.com to Craigslist.

Begeman says the ad was probably up for at least two weeks.

"I feel terrible because these people are renting. They're looking for low-cost housing and can't afford to be scammed," Begeman said.

Begeman alerted Craigslist and the website took the ad down within a few days. The ad contained two phone numbers for Henderson. Toledo News Now reached out to him and he claimed that he does own the property and is looking for someone to take care of it in his absence.

Henderson claimed he never asked Daniels for her social security number, but he did ask for her drivers license number for verification.

Henderson says he hasn't scammed anyone and he was going to call Coldwell Banker to figure out what was going on.

Dick Eppstein with the Better Business Bureau of Northwest Ohio says this is a pretty common scam done all over the country. Most of them are by people who live overseas and use an American phone number.

Eppstein says people should always verify information before sending any money. You can also check websites like Zillow.com to see if the property is legitimate. Eppstein says he sees cases like this at least several times a month in the Toledo area.

"[In] my experience, they're almost never caught and nobody ever gets their money back," Eppstein said.

As for Daniels, she was able to find a home not too far from the listed home on Craigslist. She hopes renters who find themselves in the same situation will do some research before sending their hard-earned money to someone.

For more information on how to avoid being scammed you can go to Toledo.bbb.org. To view Craigslist's warning on scams, click here.

Remember - Call 11 for Action if you have a problem you need help solving. Call 11 for Action at 419-255-2255 if you are the victim of a consumer scam, fraud, or rip off.

Copyright 2013 Toledo News Now. All rights reserved.

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