Craig’s List Big Island Kona Rental Ads Warning

I think it’s important for people attempting to rent a home or condo on the Big Island to be made aware of Craig’s List scams such as the following.  I had a client contact me about an ad she had answered for a rental at a local Kona condo. It had a real estate agent’s name associated with it, with an email address, but no phone number.  The first red flag was when that “agent” said he couldn’t get videos because the current tenant required 48 hours’ notice to get in.  The second red flag was when a rental agreement arrived in her email that was not a standard Hawaii Association of Realtors form (a requirement if the rental agent is a Realtor).  The third red flag was that the “Rental Agreement” listed a bank account in Georgia to wire the funds to.  All funds collected by a rental manager who works for a real estate brokerage must go into the Client Trust Account of that brokerage; usually in the form of a personal check made out to that brokerage. On behalf of my client, the first thing I did was check the tax records and found that the name on title was different from the name of the “landlord” on the rental agreement.  Next, I got the name of the Broker In Charge (BIC) for the brokerage in question and asked if the ad was legit.  He contacted the agent whose name was used and found out that he had never listed a property for rent on Craig’s List.  So someone had taken photos from a Zillow listing when the unit was for sale in June, found a name of a local agent to use, and put an ad in the Craig’s List rental section.  The take-away from all this is NEVER wire money to secure a rental and ALWAYS verify through a third party that the rental is legitimate.