Tagged: Rentals Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Rentals   

    Couple scammed by phony landlord in person 

    Couple scammed by phony landlord in person

    We often discuss a lot of different scams. Sometimes we even discuss the same scam on a number of different occasions. While the advice we give about avoiding scams are often good rules to follow in general, sometimes they don’t apply to every situation. For example, when it comes to renting a property, we always say don’t rent a property where the supposed landlord either won’t meet you or refuses to show the property. While that is a good general rule to follow, what do you do when a scammer does show up to show you the property?

    This happened to a couple from Ohio recently. They found a rental property on Craigslist that appeared to be a bargain. They called the number on the Craigslist listing and the man on the other side of the call said he would meet them at the property. Instead, a woman showed up who claimed to be the landlord’s wife. The wife did not have the key to the property but was able to access a lockbox at the property that did contain the key.

    The couple signed an official-looking lease and gave the woman a $475 money order as a deposit. The couple started moving in their belongings and even had internet installed at the property.

    It was a few days later when the actual landlord showed up to tell the couple that they had been duped. The scammers had copied a legitimate rental ad and posted it to Craigslist while changing the rental amount and the phone number. It’s believed that the scammers even posed as potential renters to get the code to the lockbox. The current landlord is willing to work with the couple but not everyone who’s taken in a rental scam like this is that lucky. Too often victims of these scams find themselves out on the street.

    However, there are steps you can take to avoid falling for a scam like this. The first is that you may want to avoid using Craigslist barbecue it has become a haven for scammers of all sorts. If the listing has pictures, do a reverse image search to see if the pictures are being used on a realtor’s website. If the pictures appear on a realtor’s website and Craigslist simultaneously, it’s almost a guarantee that the Craigslist ad is a fake. Lastly, always check with the county assessor’s website or office to find who truly owns the property.

     
  • Geebo 7:31 am on April 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Rentals,   

    Virtual rental scam keeps claiming victims 

    Virtual rental scam keeps claiming victims

    Last week, we posted an entry about victims who were taken in by a new type of rental scam. In this scam, phony landlords are saying they can’t meet with prospective renters because of the quarantine. The scammers would then send their victims a link so they could take a virtual tour of the home. As with all rental scams, the scammers would collect rent or deposits for properties they don’t own. Many of the victims move into the property thinking they’re now renting the property only to find out that they’ve been had. Now it seems that this virtual rental scam is becoming more commonplace.

    More recently in Texas, a woman and her son had moved into a new home before finding out from the property manager that she was there illegally. She had found the listing for the home on craigslist. When she had inquired about the home, the scammer sent her a link to a website called Rently so she could see the home virtually. Rently is a legitimate website but anyone can go on it and view rental properties. The scammer then collected the first month’s rent of $1500 through a payment app. After the woman realized she had been scammed she was able to get her money back from her bank’s app but it most cases, that money is lost forever.

    One of the red flags, in this case, was that the photos of the property were watermarked by the rental company. The scammer said that the rental company wasn’t moving the property fast enough so they listed the property on craigslist. Scammers often copy legitimate listings from rental companies or real estate agencies to pass off as their own. Another red flag was the scammer asking for payment through a payment app. You should never use Cash App or Venmo for payments to someone you don’t know as these apps are favored by scammers due to their anonymity.

    Even in the time of social distancing, you should still always ask for a face to face meeting. You can still practice safe social distancing during one of these meetings. Always do a reverse image search of the property to make sure the listing hasn’t been copied. Lastly, you should also check with the county’s tax assessor’s office or website to find out who the true property owner is. This research may take some time but in the end, it’s worth it to avoid finding yourself in a situation like this.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on December 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Rentals,   

    Just how many people have fallen for the rental scam? 

    Just how many people have fallen for the rental scam?

    One of the scams we’ve talked about the most almost since day one is the rental scam. That’s for good reason as it’s one of the most prolific scams on the internet. If you’re unfamiliar with how it works, it takes advantage of those who are usually desperate to find a new home. The scammers will list a property online as being eligible to rent usually at well below market prices. They’ll ask for all sorts of payments such as deposits and first month’s rent but will almost always never be available in person nor will they let you inspect the property. Once the victim pays whatever money has been requested, not only will they be out that money but they could also be homeless as well. Usually, the property advertised is one that’s for sale by a legitimate realtor. The scammers copy the ads and change a few details to make it look like it’s a steal for rent.

    For us, this is old hat that we’ve known about for years. However, even we were a little shocked to learn the actual numbers behind the scam. According to the Better Business Bureau, five million people have been the victim of some form of rental scam. That’s more people that live in the city of Los Angeles. If we say that all of those people lost an average of $1,000 to rental scammers then they would have collectively lost $5 billion. The BBB also says that a number of properties that have been used in the scam have started posting signs outside that say the property is not actually for rent.

    As we previously mentioned, if a supposed landlord can’t meet you or wants you to rent the property sight unseen, it is more than likely a scam. Another red flag to look out for is a staple of the online scam and that’s the form of payment the scammer asks for. If someone claiming to rent a property asks you to make payment by wiring the money through Western Union or MoneyGram, it’s probably a scam. If they ask for payment in gift cards, we can almost guarantee that’s a scam. Both of these forms of payment allow scammers to run off with the victim’s money untraced.

    If you’re looking for a place to rent, research is your best defense. Always do a reverse image search to make sure the listing has not been copied. If they have a website you may also want to check with the county assessor to see who the actual landlord is. These two steps will go a long way in protecting you from scammers as no one wants to join the five million other victims.

     
    • Johnny Shepherd 4:27 pm on December 18, 2019 Permalink

      I was in desperate need of a place to stay in LA, found a room on “Roomster” app, met with the guy, spent afternoon w/ him, running around, getting lunch, looked at the place, was given a key to the house, signed a “lease”, slept there for 3 nights, and on the fourth day, I went to run some errands in the AM…and when I came back, everything that was in the house was now stacked outside (including my things), 3 laborers were inside tearing out the carpeting, and there was a sheriff’s deputy standing near the front door, not allowing access…My new “roommate/landlord”? Nowhere to be seen. The first and last month’s “rent”? Well, that was gone too. Good scam. Never thought it would happen to me. And I’m currently homeless because of it though I’m close to securing a new place from a friend.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Rentals   

    Even realtors don’t know this scam 

    Even realtors don't know this scam

    One of the most prolific online scams is that of home rentals. A realtor will list a property for sale but scammers will copy the ad and claim the home is for rent. Then, the scammers will make up some kind of story as to why they can’t show you the property but are still willing to rent the home as long as they get a deposit and first month’s rent. It’s then the scammers will make off with the victim’s money while leaving them without a place to live. What’s even more surprising is that not all realtors are aware of this scam.

    In Racine, Wisconsin, a woman was looking for a rental property and found one with rent payments that were more than reasonable. The person who placed the ad claimed that they were hard of hearing and couldn’t respond by phone and that they were away on work so they couldn’t show the inside of the property. Thankfully, the woman decided to run by the property where she found a realtor’s sign posted outside. She called the realtor who told her the home had actually been sold and the ad that she had seen was a fake. What is most surprising about this story is that the realtor wasn’t aware of such scams considering how often it happens across America.

    As always, if a deal seems too good to be true it probably is. Always be suspicious of rents that are lower than the usual market value. Another red flag to look out for is if the supposed landlord can’t show the property and gives you some kind of convoluted story as to why. Some good ways to try to avoid this scam is to take the pictures in the ad and perform a reverse image search on Google or by checking your county’s assessor’s website or office to verify the true owner of the property.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , Rentals, ,   

    The Armslist gun sale scam and more 

    The Armslist gun sale scam and more

    We’re back again with another trio of scams to be on the lookout for.

    It seems that the much-criticized Armslist isn’t immune to scams as a woman from Western Pennsylvania has been charged with defrauding users of the website. The woman allegedly advertised several firearms for sale on the controversial site and collected the payments for them in money orders. However, she did not have any of the actual guns for sale and she’s accused of keeping all the money for herself. There’s no word on whether or not any background checks were completed on any of the victims.

    ***

    A man from Silver Lake, Washington was trying to sell his late wife’s wedding ring on craigslist when he was approached with an out-of-state offer. The man then received a bogus email stating that the money for the ring had reached his PayPal account. The man sent the ring but the money wasn’t actually there. Amazingly, after he contacted the police the ring was found in Illinois. This is a rare occurrence on the scale of a solar eclipse. Ok, maybe not that rare but it is remarkable that the man was able to get the ring back as in most cases once the item has been shipped it’s usually gone forever. In most cases, you should only deal locally and only in cash and when completing the transaction it should be done at a local police station.

    ***

    Lastly for today, a rental scam that we’ve discussed before has started popping up again and that’s the lockbox scam. The scam works like the typical rental scam where someone claiming to be a landlord will rent you a property sight unseen if you wire them a deposit. With the lockbox scam, the phony landlords have somehow gained access to the realtor’s lockbox on the property that contains a key to the home. A family in Phoenix, Arizona recently fell for this scam and even moved into the property after wiring their money to a scammer. Sadly, they had to be evicted from the property. Under no circumstance should you ever wire funds to someone you’ve never met. Most legitimate property managers will do background checks on prospective renters and will meet them in person.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: beaches, , , , , Rentals,   

    Delaware DOJ warns of Summer vacation rental scams 

    Delaware DOJ warns of Summer vacation rental scams

    Even though we are barely into the Spring season some consumers are already looking ahead to the Summer. If you’ve ever lived within driving distance of one of our nation’s beaches, you know that rental properties fill up fast and if you’re planning a Summer vacation there you have to get the jump on everyone else. Unfortunately, rental scammers are well aware of this and are trying to take advantage of unwitting vacationers. If you’re not familiar with the state of Delaware, they have some very nice beaches that are very popular with tourists. Some Delaware residents even travel to the South Jersey shore to vacation there. However, the First State is warning residents to be wary of vacation rental scams.

    The Delaware Department of Justice recently released a notice warning Delaware residents of potential vacation rental scams that could be happening in their area. Unsurprisingly, the Delaware DOJ singles out craigslist as one of the problem areas where these scams exist. Vacation rental scams work much the same way as any rental scam. A scammer will copy a legitimate ad for a rental property then post a similar ad on craigslist as if the scammer is the landlord. Once the scammer receives payment they disappear with your money while your vacation plans are ruined. This type of scam is not just limited to Delaware either.

    The Delaware DOJ offers some tips on how to not get scammed such as working with a realtor, using internet searches to make sure the property doesn’t have duplicate ads and using county property registries to make sure the property owner is who they say they are. We would also recommend not paying through unconventional means like wire transfers or gift cars as these are definitely red flags for scams. With just a little bit of homework and preparation, you can avoid having your summer vacation ruined by those looking to take advantage of people who just want to spend a few days at the beach.

     
  • Geebo 9:11 am on June 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Rentals, threats   

    Craigslist scammer pulls gun on victim 

    Craigslist scammer pulls gun on victim

    We’ve written about home rental scams on craigslist many times before. For those of you who may not be familiar with them, a scammer will typically post an ad on craigslist renting a property they don’t actually own. They do this in order to collect fees up front for either rent or some kind of deposit. In the past people have even moved into properties they thought they had rented only to find out they’ve been had. While many of these scammers are located overseas, there are plenty of domestic scammers as well.

    In Pueblo, Colorado, one particular scammer has been arrested after allegedly physically threatening his victims and even brandishing a gun at one point. Police say that this particular con man tried renting the same property to five different families in Pueblo. Some of these families even had some of their possessions moved in only to find themselves locked out of the property and their belongings were gone. When one of the victims confronted the accused scammer, the scammer was said to have pulled a gun on the victim. Another victim claims that the scammer threatened to burn the property down while the victims were trying to live in it. The scammer was able to collect at least $4,000 from his victims.

    While scammers don’t usually tend to be this violent there is always that possibility. Due to the proliferation of these types of scams on craigslist and craigslist’s unwillingness to moderate their ads, almost every rental ad on craigslist should be seen as suspect. The housing crisis in this country is bad enough for many families without having to deal with criminals like this. The best way to avoid scams like this is to check with your county appraiser’s website or office to see if the property is actually available for rent.

     
  • Geebo 9:59 am on November 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Rentals   

    Rental scam continues to claim victims 

    Rental scam continues to claim victims

    Normally, we only post about online scams when either a new one turns up or there’s a new twist on an old scam. Unfortunately, consumers are still falling for one of the oldest online scams in the virtual book. So we thought we’d take another look at the old standby, the rental scam.

    For those who may not know, the rental scam works like this. The scammer will find a house for sale, usually on the site of a reputable realtor. They’ll then copy that ad then change it from a property being for sale to one that’s for rent. They’ll then follow this up by posting their fake ad on an unmodertaed classifieds site like craigslist. The rent will also be listed at below market values. When a consumer responds to the ad, the scammer will try to collect some kind of upfront fee, usually disguised as a rental application fee or some kind of deposit. Usually, the scammers will make some kind of excuse as to why they can’t show you the home while still asking you for money. These scams are usually designed to prey on those who are desperate to resolve a housing situation crisis in their lives.

    Recently, in Memphis, Tennessee, a scammer was able to con several people out of hundreds of dollars each for a property they did not own. The alleged scammer was said to have used the very same tactics we posted above. This is not an uncommon occurrence as it happens all over the country all the time. For example, here’s a similar report out of the Tampa, Florida area.

    In order to avoid these scams we first recommend not using unmoderated classifieds site as they’re not reviewing ads for possible fraud. Secondly, if the rent seems too good to be true it probably is. Don’t ever give money to someone without being able to walk through the property. If the seller claims to be out of the area, pass on the property. Always check with the county appraiser’s website or office to see if the property is actually available for rent. Lastly, you may not be looking for a rental property, but if someone you know is, please share this post and this blog with them in order to help educate them about this prevalent scam.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on June 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Rentals,   

    Denver man takes on rental scammers 

    Denver man takes on rental scammers

    If you’re looking for a property to rent online, and you come in contact with an obvious scammer, we don’t recommend engaging with them. Any actual information they can get out of you can be used for their gain. Instead, if you really want to help prevent the activity of these scammers, we recommend contacting the Internet Crime Complaint Center. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate someone who wastes a scammer’s time in the same way they like to waste ours. A man in Denver was looking for an apartment on a certain disreputable classifieds site when he was contacted by a slew of scammers. Here’s how the rental scam usually works.

    In Denver, the scammers kept asking the man for a picture of a check written out for a phony deposit. The Denver man kept sending the scammers e-mails with no attachments, links to URLs that went nowhere, and a picture of broken image error message. It was a number of back and forth e-mails before the scammers realized they were being trolled.

    While this man recognized the red flags that led him to realize there were scammers afoot, not everyone does. Just as a reminder, if a rental price sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If a ‘landlord’ wants you to send money without letting you view the property, it’s probably a scam. If they ask you to wire money to them or send money using prepaid credit cards or gift cards, it’s most definitely a scam. Education is the key. If more people are aware of these scams, less people will fall for them and that will begin to drive the scammers out of business.

     
  • Geebo 7:04 am on May 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Rentals,   

    Don’t be left broke and homeless when looking for a place to rent 

    Don't be left broke and homeless when looking for a place to rent

    One of the oldest online commerce scams is the rental property scam. How it works is the scam artist will usually copy a legitimate ad for a house for sale but will make it appear in their ad that the property is for rent, usually at a rate that is almost too good to be true. Some red flags when it comes these ads is that the ‘seller’ will claim that their getting ready to go overseas, or for some reason they won’t be able to meet you face to face. They’ll also try to pressure you into paying a deposit without inspecting the property. In most cases they’ll try to do that through poorly spelled emails or emails where it’s apparent that they may not be native English speakers.

    However there’s an easier way to avoid having the scam go this far. Most legitimate rental properties should be listed with the county or municipality their being rented in. The owner’s contact information should be a matter of public record and if it doesn’t match with what you’re being told or if the property is not listed at all then it’s more than likely a scam.

    Too many families have been left without a home or money falling for these types of scams. With just a little bit of knowledge you can avoid being taken online.

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel