HONOLULU (KHON2) — A single mother of two scammed out of her rental deposit is warning others, so they don’t make the same mistake. 

Ebony Smith said she was looking for a new place to rent on Craigslist when she came across something that looked good.

Download the free KHON2 app for iOS or Android to stay informed on the latest news

“I thought it was cool (because) I found my last spot there,” said Smith. 

She said she paid the man with money orders, showed her bank statements, picture ID and provided her social security number. 

Things took a turn when Smith said one day, she no longer saw the rental listing and he stopped responding to her. 

“The post is gone from Craigslist, he turned his phone off or was using some kind of app,” said Smith. 

Smith then made a police report with Honolulu PD and told them she was out $6,300, all paid with money orders.  

According to HPD’s spokesperson Michelle Yu Smith’s report is classified as a second-degree theft. 

“I made a police report but it’s nothing they can really do about it,” said Smith. “I paid in money orders.”
Smith said she is now staying in a hotel while trying to find a new place to rent and is running low on funds. 

“Literally almost all I had. I don’t know if I will ever get it back.”

She is hopeful her story will help others think about the dangers of renting from Craigslist and if possible, to go with a trusted realtor. 

Craigslist offers tips on their website to help people avoid getting scammed. Things like meeting up to exchange money and items in person, not giving up personal information and things you can do to protect yourself.

List of scam prevention tips:

  • 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.

Get more coronavirus news: COVID vaccines, boosters and Safe Travels information

For more safety tips on how to avoid getting scammed head to their website.