Renters aren’t immune to too-good-to-be-true pitches.

One popular scheme these days involves the perpetrators lifting a real estate agent’s online photos and information for an attractive residence that’s currently for sale — and then placing an ad on a free online classified-ads site that purports to offer the house for rent at below-market rates.

The pitch (from the ostensible landlord) is, ‘We’re leaving town quickly because we’re going to do missionary work in Africa’ ” and thus are offering the place at an excellent monthly rate.

In fact, the landlord says he’s leaving town so quickly there’s no time to show it, and so the tenant will have to go by what’s in the ad and wire the first and last month’s rent to the landlord (at an address that’s inevitably somewhere abroad) and the keys will be sent, he said.

Incredibly, this works (in the criminal’s favor) more often than you’d think. The price is so low, and people don’t want to pass it up. But they’re not doing their homework.

A couple of weeks ago, we had a renter contact us about a home that we have for sale here in Hutchinson, MN that was advertised for rent on Craigslist and unfortunately it was part of this scam. Luckily, the would be renter was smart enough to check things out before sending any money.

Yesterday our Regional Multiple Listing Service sent out a warning to all of us about this scam which apparently is being run out of Nigeria!

So, once again the phrase, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” holds true.