More tips on how to avoid a rental scam

By Greg Collier

Since the dawn of online classifieds, the rental scam is probably only 2nd in frequency to the fake check scam. For two decades, rental scammers have been stealing the money from families looking to rent a new home. More often than not, the victims of these scams end up losing the last of their money, so not only can they not move, but they can’t pay the rent at their current residence. While we have much empathy for the victims of rental scams, it is one of the more preventable online scams.

For example, a woman in Cincinnati recently fell victim to such a scam. She found a house for rent on Facebook Marketplace that was a two bedroom home for just $700 a month. The scammer sent the victim pictures of the home’s interior, but said they couldn’t show the home because they were out of state. The victim still filled out an application and sent a deposit and two months rent to the scammer over the payment app Zelle. In total, the victim lost over $2000.

Currently, there are simple steps to prevent you from falling victim to this scam. The first thing you should do is a do a web search of the property’s complete address, zip code and all. This first listings in the search should bring up real estate websites Zillow and Zillow can give you an idea of a more realistic rent, as scammers will almost always list the property well below market value. will let you know if the property is being rented by a real estate agency and their contact info. If that information doesn’t match what you’re being given, you may be dealing with a scammer. If you do a reverse image search from the listing you found, it might take you to one of these websites, meaning the pictures were stolen.

There are also the red flags of the ‘landlord’ not being able to show the property and the payment through apps like Zelle and Cash App.

Lastly, if you want to be absolutely sure that you’re dealing with the legitimate owner of the property, do a check with the county’s tax assessor’s website or office.

It’s better to do a little research to avoid being scammed than acting rashly and losing your money.