Craig's list rental property scam


District Attorney's OfficeAllison Haley, District Attorney

Allison Haley headshot

Mike Donovan
Chief DA Investigator
(707) 253-4211

931 Parkway Mall
Napa, CA 94559

Gary Lieberstein
District Attorney

Craigslist rental property scam

The Napa County District Attorney’s Office has recently received several complaints regarding a scam involving the fraudulent listing of rental properties on

The scam generally involves the following scenario. A potential renter will see an advertisement for a rental on Craigslist and contact the person listed on the advertisement. The contact person will request that the potential renter wire a “deposit” via Moneygram, Western Union, or a similar electronic fund transfer, in order to secure the rental. The contact person is very insistent that if the potential renter does not wire the “deposit” immediately, he or she will lose the rental.

In fact, the “rental” property in question is a property that was recently listed for sale. Information from the sale listing is used to create a fraudulent rental listing on Craigslist. The rental is generally listed below market rate. As soon as the potential renter sends the “deposit”, the contact person disappears with the money.

In order to avoid falling victim to this scam, the District Attorney’s Office recommends would-be renters:

  • Do not extend payment to anyone you have not met in person
  • Do not wire “deposit” money to secure a rental property, especially if you have not inspected the rental property and are not familiar with the person to whom you are wiring the money
  • Check the internet and/or with a local real estate office to make sure that the “rental” property is not actually for sale
  • Read Craiglist’s warning regarding scams at 

Additionally, local realtors are encouraged to screen Craigslist to see if their sale listings are also listed for rent. If so, they should contact Craigslist to have the “rental” listing removed.

The Board of Supervisors and staff of Napa County are dedicated to preserving and sustaining Napa County for present and future generations as a community with generous open space, a thriving agricultural industry and a quality human and natural environment.


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