Summer regular nearly taken by rental scam
The Aspen Times
A Denver couple who spend their summers in Aspen nearly lost $4,000 in a Craigslist rental scam offering a too-good-to-be-true downtown condo.
Chris Mohr, who hosts a classical-music program on Aspen Public Radio during the summer, said he and his wife look for places to live here during June, July and August, though “it gets harder and harder every year” to find anything affordable, he said.
Recently, however, they found an ad on Craigslist for a one-bedroom condo in the downtown core for $7,500 for four months, including utilities, Mohr said.
“They allowed cats,” he said. “It sounded great.”
Mohr, 62, said he became a bit suspicious when he had to change the dates he’d be in town and the person renting offered no resistance and said that would be fine. Then the person wanted Mohr and his wife to send a $4,000 deposit to him out of state, which prompted the couple to do some checking.
They searched the man’s name online but found little information about him, Mohr said. Then his wife looked up the condo’s address online and contacted a property-management company associated with it, he said.
It turned out the condo was indeed for rent, but for three times the amount cited in the Craigslist ad, Mohr said. Further, a company representative hadn’t heard of the man offering the condo for rent, he said.
“We would have come to Aspen on June 1, and we’d have been homeless,” Mohr said.
Aspen police hear about similar scams relatively regularly, said Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn. Police records show one report about a rental scam so far this year and three last year, he said.
Craigslist scams can be sophisticated, with pictures and detailed information, and Linn cautioned people to be careful when renting a place from outside Aspen. Using a local property-management company is far safer, he said.
Mohr, meanwhile, found a reputable broker through Craigslist who was able to find a one-bedroom condo that allowed cats for $8,500 for three months, he said.
“That’s actually not too bad,” Mohr said.
Tenants at the city’s oldest deed-restricted housing complex, Centennial Apartments, faced rent hikes as high as 30% in January that sent city, county, and APCHA officials into closed-door meetings with the relatively new landlord, Birge & Held.