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Beware Of Rental Property and Online Scams


Charlotte County Sherri’s Office warns that Rental property scams are often found on local buy, sell, trade websites such as Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Facebook groups, etc.

When engaging in a rental transaction, or real-estate purchase transaction through an online classified, consumers should fully vet the person they are going to meet and not deal in cash. Consumers should not render payment to third persons and not accept at face value that the person offering a lease agreement is entitled to represent the rental property. Consumers should also take heed of consumer safety recommendations to protect themselves and their money.

Follow the rules below and protect yourself from falling for any scam attempts:

  • Deal locally and face-to-face
  • Do not provide payment to anyone you have not met in person
  • Beware offers involving shipping – deal with locals you can meet in person
  • Never wire funds (e.g. Western Union) – anyone who asks you to is a scammer
  • Don’t accept cashier/certified checks or money orders – banks cash fakes, then hold you responsible
  • Transactions are between users only, no third party provides a “guarantee”
  • Never give out financial info (bank account, social security, paypal account, etc)
  • Do not rent or purchase sight-unseen—that amazing “deal” may not exist
  • Refuse background/credit checks until you have met landlord/employer in person
  • “craigslist voicemails” – Any message asking you to access or check “craigslist voicemails” or “craigslist voice messages” is fraudulent – no such service exists

It’s important to establish a safe and secure meet up spot when buying or selling online. The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office encourages you to be safe when conducting business transactions resulting from online commerce by choosing safe areas to meet for the exchange of goods and money.  Each of our District Offices has an E-Commerce Exchange Safe Zone for customers meeting with individuals to transact business resulting from online deals.

Locations of Safe Exchange Zones in Charlotte County:

District 1 Office: 11051 Willmington Boulevard, Englewood
District 2 Office: 992 Tamiami Trail Suite A, Port Charlotte
District 3 Office: 3110 Loveland Blvd. Port Charlotte
District 4 Office: 7474 Utilities Road (Headquarters), Punta Gorda

Punta Gorda Police Department: 1410 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda