Local woman warns of rental scam after online ad

PORTLAND, Ore. - Barbara Bachmeier already has two roommates at her new house in Southwest Portland.

Her two parrots, Andy and Zoe. But they have one major drawback.

"They don't pay," said Bachmeier.

So she put an ad on Craigslist offering up her two extra bedrooms. She hoped to find a student going to Lewis and Clark College, which is only a mile from her house.

"A very lovely-sounding young woman from Scotland responded. Her name is Debbie," said Bachmeier.

Debbie is a graduate student moving to Portland. Her father sent Bachmeier a check for more than $3,000 to help pay for Debbie's car, which was being shipped to the U.S.

"I would cash the check immediately, then immediately also withdraw something like $2,700 and send that to a car broker in Prescott, Arizona," Bachmeier said.

But Bachmeier spent 20 years in the Army, in military intelligence. She checks, double-checks, investigates and verifies.

"And there was no person by the name she sent me doing car business in Prescott, Arizona."

The envelope came, not from Scotland, but from a school in Texas. The check came from a university in Miami.

Bachmeier labeled this one a scam. Plus, the one that came right after Debbie.

"It was pretty much the same language, but this time it was Stephanie from South Africa," she said.

For now, Andy and Zoe still rule the roost at Bachmeier's house, until she can find real renters. She wants everyone to understand that checking the facts is not just a job for military intelligence, but for anyone putting their ad on Craigslist.

Bachmeier suggests making people fill out an application that includes former landlord contact information and references. She also recommends checking social media for clues about your potential renters.

"People shouldn't think they're being honest or untrusting. It's the right thing to do."