Heads up renters. Don't be swindled out of your hard-earned money.

The scam is not new nationwide, but it might be new to East Texas and it's already hit several people right in the wallet.

The scammers pretend to own a property and post an ad on Craigslist looking for renters, and when the renters put down a deposit and first month's rent, the supposed owner takes the money and runs.  So far there's no word that Lufkin or Nacogdoches have had victims of the scam, but it's good to be aware in case it moves this way.

The Greater Tyler Association of Realtors told the Tyler Morning Telegraph that it has learned it's happened more than once recently there. One woman went to visit the property she intended to rent, only to discover a big SOLD sign in the front yard, and she was out the money she had paid on Craigslist.

Reports have been filed with the Tyler Police Department and the FBI, but so far the lost money hasn't been recovered.

The realty association recommends looking at the property before any money changes hands. And don't pay with prepaid debit cards or wire money to someone you don't know.

Hopefully karma gets these creeps, but in the meantime you can protect yourself with some research about the place you want to rent, and a good dose of skepticism about offers that sound too good to be true.