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  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 22, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Elaborate rental scam leaves more families homeless 

    Elaborate rental scam leaves more families homeless

    By Greg Collier

    Rental scams seem to be grabbing plenty of headlines lately. There hasn’t been an increase in rental scams. Rental scams are one of the more common scams going today and has been for a while. We think the headlines are escalating because increasingly more families are becoming homeless because of the scam.

    For example, two families moved from out of state to Aurora, Colorado. The first family is from Las Vegas and saw an and for a four bedroom home for rent on Craigslist. This family tried to do all of their due diligence. They asked the landlord for proof of ownership, which they provided. The father of the family even drove from Las Vegas to Aurora to meet with a realtor who showed him the home. The man agreed to rent the home and arranged to make the deposit.

    The realtor asked for payment through Cash App, which the man almost recognized as a red flag. However, the Las Vegas man insisted on paying through PayPal instead. Once the realtor received the payment, he gave the family the code to enter the home. So, they packed up all their belongings and moved from Las Vegas into the Aurora home.

    They were living in the home for three days when another family showed up looking to move in. This family had moved from Arkansas to Colorado. When the two families compared their stories, they both realized they had been scammed. Everyone from the landlord to the realtor were scammers.

    It wasn’t too long before the property management company showed up. As property management companies are wont to do, they gave the first family 10 days to vacate the premises or be evicted. The second family didn’t even have that luxury. Now, both families are facing homelessness.

    So, how did the scammers gain access to the home in the first place? Once again, the property management company was probably using a lockbox which contained the keys. Too many realtors never change the code on the lockboxes, leaving them vulnerable to scammers. All a scammer has to do is contact the legitimate realtor and ask for a tour. Since many realtors allow guideless tours, they’ll give the lockbox code to any potential customer, including scammers. Once the scammer has the lockbox code, they’ll use it repeatedly to show the home to their victims.

    As always, the best way to protect yourself against rental scammers is to do as much research about the property as possible. Don’t ask the landlord for proof of ownership, instead contact the county’s tax assessor’s office to find out who the real owner is. Do a Google search on the property’s address to see if there are multiple listings with different rental rates. If there are, the lower priced one is almost guaranteed to be a scam listing. Lastly, never use payment apps like PayPal or Cash App for your deposit. These apps are vulnerable to a number of scams themselves.

    If you want to help the two families taken in by this scam, you can donate to their GoFundMe accounts here and here.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 9, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , rental scam,   

    Do real landlords hold any responsibility for rental scams? 

    Do real landlords hold any responsibility for rental scams?

    By Greg Collier

    It seems like more and more families are being put out on the street because of rental scams. This is when scammers pose as landlords and collect money from victims in the guise of security deposits or rent. Scammers will copy the listings from legitimate realtor sites and post them on places like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace as if they own the property. In too many cases recently, scammers will even obtain access to the property to make their claim of ownership more authentic. The rental scam has been around as long as online marketplaces have existed. In the early days of the scam, fake landlords would ask for payment in money transfers. Now, the scammers have even easier access to their victims’ money thanks to personal payment apps like Zelle and Venmo.

    To make matters worse, many rental properties can be viewed using various rental apps that allow renters to have unguided access to the rental home. Not only has this allowed scammers to circumvent these apps to fool their victims, it’s also allowed the victims to move into homes they thought they legitimately rented. Once the actual landlords find out people have moved in to one of their properties without their say so, the scam victims are usually evicted within days. Many of the victims do not have any other housing options and become homeless. However, do landlords and property management companies share some blame for not securing their properties better?

    A family from Wisconsin recently fell victim to a rental scam and are now facing an uncertain future. They found a listing online for a townhouse that was perfect for them. They only spoke to the supposed property agent by phone and text. The family was given an access code to a lockbox that contained keys to the property. This allowed them to tour the townhouse alone. The family forwarded the payment to the person they were dealing with. While the report doesn’t state how the payment was sent, it’s safe to assume a personal payment app was used.

    The day after the family moved in, another family showed up also looking to move in. That’s when the actual property management company stepped in and gave the family one week to move out.

    When reached for comment by local media, the management company said they use a third-party platform to perform the unassisted tours. The third party is said to verify potential renters by doing a driver’s license and credit card check. However, it seems once an ID check is passed, the code to access the lockbox can be accessed over and over again. That makes the lockboxes vulnerable to scammers, as they can easily pass an ID check with stolen information. There’s already a housing crisis in this country. It doesn’t need to be worsened by scammers and shoddy security.

    If you’re looking to rent a new home, we can’t stress enough to do as much research on the property as possible before committing any money. Even as something as simple as doing a web search on the property’s address can turn up a trove of information that may help you avoid a rental scam. Also, never use apps like Venmo or Cash App to make any kind of deposit or rent payment. These apps are too easily manipulated by scammers to get your money and then disappear. Lastly, read any and all paperwork carefully to make sure the documentation isn’t fake.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 25, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , rental scam,   

    Reporter’s home used in rental scam 

    By Greg Collier

    If you’re a rental scammer, the last house you want to use in your scam is probably one which belongs to a police officer. The second to last house a scammer would want to use would most likely belong to a reporter. But that’s precisely what happened to a TV reporter from the Hampton Roads, Virginia area.

    The reporter listed her home for rent on Zillow and only Zillow. After posting her home on Zillow, she received a text from a good Samaritan. The man who texted her said he found her home listed for rent on Craigslist. Not only did the Craigslist ad list the home for a cheaper rent, but the scammer was asking for an $80 application fee. The scammer had reportedly been talking to the man for two days before the man drove over to the property and called the number that was on the ‘for rent’ sign.

    Then the reporter did what reporters do, she began to investigate the phony listing. During her investigation, she also found her home listed for rent on Facebook Marketplace. As you might expect, she called the phone number listed in the phony ads. The scammer said he would meet with her to show her the home and would need $1000 for the security deposit. However, when it came time to meet, the scammer instead sent the reporter a link to the application and asked for the $80 application fee. The reporter even commented on how official looking the application was.

    The reporter called the scammer and asked him how long he owned the home, with the scammer replying two years. She then told the scammer she was both the owner of the home and a reporter. The scammer hung up the call, and when the reporter tried to call back, she only got the voicemail message.

    If you’re looking to rent or sell your home online, there’s not much you can do to prevent it being used in a scam. We have seen online listings where the seller states that the home is not listed on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. That may aid in discouraging renters from falling victim to a rental scam.

    We understand that there may be urgent situations requiring individuals to find a new home swiftly. However, regardless of the circumstances, it is crucial for potential renters to dedicate time to researching a property before making any financial commitments. One essential step is to determine the current rental rates for homes in the desired area. If a particular home seems remarkably affordable, exercising caution is advisable. Engage in a thorough web search using the property’s address to identify any other listings associated with different realtors and rental prices, as scammers often replicate legitimate real estate offers. Additionally, it is prudent to verify the true ownership of the property by consulting the county’s tax assessor office or website. By taking these precautionary measures, individuals can protect themselves from potential rental scams and ensure a safe and informed decision-making process.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 20, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , rental scam, , , , ,   

    Scam Round Up: Fake cops threaten tenants and more 

    Scam Round Up: Fake cops threaten tenants and more

    By Greg Collier

    Our first scam of the day comes to us from a warning from the New York City Police Department. The NYPD says they’ve seen an increase in a charity scam that involves Venmo and your phone. Scammers are approaching NYC residents while pretending they’re working for a charity.

    The scammers will ask for a donation through the personal payment app Venmo. The victim will be provided the information to make the donation, but the donation won’t go through. This is when the scammer will ask for the victim’s phone to help them make the donation. Instead, the scammers are sending the entire amount of the victim’s Venmo account to themselves.

    The NYPD is telling residents not to hand their phones over to strangers, especially if they’re asking for donations. Please keep in mind, Venmo was intended to be used between family and friends.


    We’ve been keeping a close eye on the scams that involve AI-generated voice-spoofing. Scammers will take someone’s voice either from social media or their voicemail message and run it through an AI voice program that will allow them to make someone’s voice say just about anything they want. Typically, voice-spoofing is used in the grandparent and virtual kidnapping scams. In these scams, scammers need the victim to believe they’re talking to a loved one.

    The most recent report we have on this is out of Atlanta, where a mother was confronted with this scam. She received a call she thought was from her adult daughter. She heard her daughter’s voice before someone on the call said her daughter saw something she shouldn’t have and has now been kidnapped. The caller demanded $50,000 in ransom.

    Thankfully, her husband was able to get a hold of her daughter, who was in no real danger.

    If you receive a phone call like this, always try to reach the person who has been supposedly kidnapped through other means. Even if you have a full conversation with someone who sounds just like your loved one, always verify the story. Ask them a question only they would know, or set up a family code word ahead of time that would signify who you were talking to.


    Residents of Newark, New Jersey, have reported that people posing as police have been going around to tenants and demanding multiple months worth of rent. If the phony officers don’t get the money, they threaten the tenants with eviction and arrest.

    In New Jersey, an eviction can’t be carried out until the landlord has received a judgment in court.

    If you’re renting your home or apartment, you should familiarize yourself with your state’s or county’s eviction process.

    Also, keep in mind, legitimate police will never show up at your door asking for your rent money. If someone claiming to be police does show up at your door, call the police department they’re supposedly from and verify if an officer has been dispatched to your home.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 10, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , rental scam, ,   

    Another family homeless after rental scam 

    By Greg Collier

    After mistakenly believing they had legitimately rented a home, a Florida family finds themselves homeless and forced to live on the streets. Tragically, stories like this are becoming far too common, as rental scammers continue to prey on families who are just looking for a roof over their heads.

    This family found a home for rent in their price range on Facebook Marketplace. The person who listed the home on Marketplace then directed the family to tour the home using an app called Rently. For those unfamiliar with Rently, it’s a service that allows prospective tenants to view and access rental properties without the need for a leasing agent or property manager to be present. Lockboxes are put on the doors of homes for rent or sale, and people who want to tour the home are given a combination to the lockbox, which has the keys in it.

    To get access to these homes, scammers will pose as prospective renters or buyers just so they can get the lockbox combination. Many realtors aren’t very good about changing the lockbox combinations, so scammers can use them repeatedly if need be.

    After the family toured the home and said they were interested in renting, the supposed landlord asked them for four months rent in advance, which came to an eye-watering $7000. Part of the payment was even asked for in eBay gift cards.

    After they moved in to the home, a sheriff’s deputy showed up at the door to inform the family they were trespassing and needed to leave.

    The home was available for rent, but was being rented out by a property management company.

    To add insult to injury, the family’s trailer that they were towing broke just a few feet after leaving the property.

    Just because an ad is listed on a multi-billion dollar platform like Facebook Marketplace doesn’t guarantee the listing is legitimate. Facebook was a haven for scammers long before Marketplace was implemented. Another red flag in this story is the landlord not being present during the home’s tour, or at any other time at all. And the biggest red flag was when partial payment was asked for in gift cards. As we are fond of saying, gift cards are the currency of scammers.

    We understand there are times when someone needs to find a new home quickly as possible. But no matter the reason, prospective renters should always take the time to research a property before paying any money. Research the going rate for rental homes in that area. If the home you’re looking at seems like a bargain, be suspicious. Do a web search on the address to see if other listings appear with different realtor names and rental prices, as scammers often copy legitimate real estate listings. And as always, you can check with the county’s tax assessor office or website to see who the true owner of the home really is.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 6, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , rental scam,   

    Are obituaries gold mines for scammers? 

    Are obituaries gold mines for scammers?

    By Greg Collier

    Recently, we’ve published a number of posts about a scam that involves funeral homes. In this scam, scammers comb the obituaries, looking for a notice that lists the funeral home being used. This allows the scammers to pose as the funeral home while trying to extort money from the deceased’s family. Now, it seems, that scammers are using the obituaries for a different scam.

    In Pennsylvania, a family was looking for a new home to rent. The family found a home for rent on Facebook Marketplace that they thought was quite the bargain at $800 a month. The home’s supposed owner said they had just accepted a job out of state, as to why they were renting the home. When the family asked to see inside the home, they were told they would need to send the money first, then they would be sent a key and a contract.

    This struck the family as odd, so they decided to do a web search on the homeowner. The name the family had been given belonged to a man who had just recently passed away. The home that was listed had belonged to the deceased man, but it was actually being put up for sale.

    The theory is scammers are using the properties of the recently deceased in order to avoid having their potential victims being warned away.

    While this family thankfully avoided being scammed, there could potentially be victims out there who lost money to this scam.

    When looking to rent a new home, you can never do enough research. Not only should you web search the home’s address to look for duplicate listings, also check the names of anyone involved who claims to be the landlord or homeowner. This is especially important when the rental price seems too good to be true.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 16, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: credit check, , , rental scam,   

    New type of rental scam changes the game 

    By Greg Collier

    We’re pretty sure when Craigslist first started allowing real estate listings, the rental scam was born. For any new readers, the rental scam is when a scammer will list a property online for rent which they don’t actually own. Scammers will copy a legitimate listing from a realtor of a property which is for sale, then post it for rent on unregulated marketplaces like Craigslist. The listing will have a below-market rent in order to lure in victims. Typically, these scammers will ask for either a security deposit or first month’d rent before disappearing with the victim’s money. These scams have cost victims thousands of dollars and have left many of them homeless.

    However, there is a new rental scam that’s occurring across the country, according to the Better Business Bureau. The BBB says these new scammers aren’t after renters’ money, but their personal information instead.

    The scammers are still using the same tricks to find a potential victim, but instead of trying to take their money, the scammers are having victims fill out phony credit checks. Victims are being led to a website that appears to be professional and legitimate, but once renters give their personal information, the scammers disappear with the victim’s identity.

    Now, it’s not unusual for landlords to perform credit checks before renting to a new tenant. However, there are ways to protect yourself from this scam, and many of them are the same ways to protect yourself from the typical rental scam.

    The first thing you should do is Google the address of the rental property. If there are duplicate listings and the landlord details don’t match, there’s a good chance you’ve discovered a scam listing. If the listing from a realtor’s website says the home is for sale, or the rent is more expensive, then the other listing is the phony one. And as always, you can always check with the county’s tax office or website to find out who the true landlord is.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 30, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , rental scam, , ,   

    Vacation scams are on their way 

    Vacation scams are on their way

    By Greg Collier

    With Memorial Day weekend behind us, many of use will be looking to book our summer vacations. Unfortunately, dream vacations can often turn to nightmares thanks to scammers. The Better Business Bureau has issued a warning about various scams vacation-goers may encounter if they’re not careful.

    One of the more common scams that could ruin a vacation is the rental scam. It works in the same way as a long-term rental scam works. Scammers will list properties online for short-term rental they don’t actually own. More often than not, the listing is copied from a legitimate listing, although the scammers are advertising the rental at below-market prices. Research is key when looking to rent a home for your vacation. Do a web search of the property’s address, and you might find multiple listings online that show different owners, different rental agencies, and different prices. If the listing you found is the one with the lowest price, there is a very good chance that is the scam listing.

    If you decide to go down the motel/hotel route, be wary of calls to your room from the front desk. A scam that has become popular over the last few years is when scammers call your room. They’ll call late at night while posing as the front desk. The caller will say your credit card didn’t go through and will ask for your credit card information again. The scammers are hoping that you’ll give them your credit card information instead of going down to the front desk. If you didn’t use a credit card, you’ll know you’re being scammed. If you did book your room with a credit card, always go to the front desk if there is a supposed problem with it.

    Lastly, you may want to be careful when using the wifi at your lodgings. Using public wifi in general can open you up to a number of security risks, such as exposing your financial information. While travelling, think about purchasing a plan with a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs can block your information from being seen on public wifi. However, when choosing a VPN, always go with a paid plan, as free VPNs are often just a disguise for more security risks.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 2, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Craigslist rental scam leads to identity theft 

    By Greg Collier

    When we discuss rental scams, we mostly discuss how victims lose money. However, there is another pitfall to the rental scam, and that’s having your identity stolen. That could end up costing a rental scam victim even more money and headaches after they lose money to the scammer.

    Typically, rental scams involve individuals who pretend to be landlords or property managers in order to deceive potential renters into paying upfront for a rental property that they have no right to rent out or don’t even own. The scam begins with an advertisement for a rental property that appears to be priced well below the market rate, which attracts the attention of potential renters. The scammer then persuades the victim to pay a security deposit or the first month’s rent before they have had the chance to view the property. Once the payment is made, the scammer may become unreachable or vanish altogether, leaving the victim without a rental property and without any recourse to recover their money.

    But what these stories sometimes fail to mention is the phony application process scammers make victims go through. To make the scam seem more legitimate, rental scammers will have their victims fill out rental applications that ask for the victim’s personal and financial information. Once the scammers have that information, they can obviously use it for more profitable crimes.

    For example, a woman in Connecticut found a rental home on Craigslist that was well within her budget. The rental scammer had her fill out an application that asked for all pertinent information they would need for identity theft. This included the victim’s Social Security number, driver’s license number, and tax history. Just a few days later, the scammer tried to open a credit card account in the victim’s name. The victim had to freeze her credit for a year, which comes with its own set of issues.

    When filling out a rental application, avoid giving out information that is not publicly available, such as your Social Security number, driver’s license number, and banking information.

    However, before you even get to that step, you should research the property first. The listing in the story was copied from a Zillow listing where the home was for sale., Information like this can be discerned just by doing a Google search for the property’s address. And you can always check the property records with the county.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 28, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , rental scam,   

    Just how bad are rental scams today? 

    By Greg Collier

    Ever since real estate listings have been online, there have been rental scammers. The rental scam in real estate is where scammers pose as landlords or property managers to trick prospective tenants into paying money upfront for a rental property that they do not own or have no authority to rent out.

    The scam usually begins with an advertisement for a property that is below market value, making it attractive to prospective renters. Once a victim expresses interest in the property, the scammer may request payment of a security deposit or the first month’s rent before the victim has seen the property. After the payment is made, the scammer may become difficult to reach or disappear entirely, leaving the victim without a rental property and out of money.

    The rental scam is also one of the more common scams we’ve discussed on this blog. Much like the jury duty scam, hardly a day goes by where we don’t see a rental scam story in the news. However, the scam may be much worse than we originally thought.

    For example, a homeless family in Atlanta thought they had found a home that they could afford. They paid $3000 to someone they thought was the property owner. The family was even given two sets of keys to the property. They weren’t staying in the home long before the real property manager showed up and allowed them 24 hours to vacate the premises.

    When a local news station spoke with the property management company, the company said it’s part of their job to visit their vacant properties that have been illegally occupied. The company also commented that this happens around 15 times a week. And that’s just one property management company in one city. Now just imagine how often situations like this happen not only across the country, but in your area as well.

    Thankfully, the property management company tries to help the victims they’ve encountered, but when someone has just lost all the money they had to scammers, it’s hard to imagine how much help can really be offered.

    To avoid falling victim to a rental scam, it is important to do your research and verify the legitimacy of the property and the person claiming to be the landlord or property manager. Always insist on viewing the property before making any payments, and be wary of any requests for personal or financial information that seem unnecessary or suspicious.

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