Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky 2022-05-16 05:57:23 –
As rents are rising, it’s no wonder that many renters are looking for rental housing at great prices. But scammers are finding ways to trick you into sending cash to homes where even rent isn’t available.
Michele Parks walked to a refurbished ranch house in the neighborhood. She says it was her dream home.
“It’s beautiful,” she said, standing on the street in front of it. “I have two grandchildren who would have loved it.”
But she didn’t know she was about to be the victim of a rental scam.
“I looked up Craigslist and found this rental home for $ 1,000 a month,” she said. “There is no $ 1,000 a month.”
How fraud works
The park sent a text to the landlord, and within minutes classic rental scams began to seduce the landlord.
The “landlord” gave her her address and told her to drive past and look around. So Parks did it, and as soon as she pulled it up to her house and saw it all freshly painted and landscaped, she was what she was waiting for. I learned that.
She wasn’t bothered by the real estate agent’s sign-out front, wondering if the landlord wanted to sell or rent it.
“He had been on the market for a long time and now I think he wanted to rent it,” she said.
The landlord said he was out of town, but said she would send her the key after wiring a thousand dollar deposit. So she sent money through her money transfer app, but she never got in touch with him again. It was all a scam.
How about a complete description and a list of beautiful interior photos? Everything was stolen from the legitimate sale list of the house. When Parks called the real estate agent’s name on the sign, he said the house was never rented and didn’t know it was listed as a rental property.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, rent scams are too common for scammers who advertise rents that aren’t available, are actually sellers, or don’t exist at all.
“The scammer may have hijacked the real estate owner’s email account or changed his email address on a reputable website,” said FTC lawyer Christopher Brown.
How to know that an ad can be fake
Brown says the rental fraud warning signs include:
- You will be instructed to wire the money for a deposit or pay with a gift card, Venmo, Cash App, or Zelle.
- The landlord asks for a security deposit or rent before signing a rental contract.
- The landlord says they are outside the state or country, so now you can’t take you on a rental tour.
Brown says he always compares prices to other rental properties in the area. If another house rents for $ 2,000 a month and the house listed for the deal is $ 1,000, something could be wrong.
“Ask yourself, is this rent much cheaper than an equivalent rent? It could be a danger signal,” he said.
Finally, be sure to pay your security deposit with your credit card. That way, you can get your money back if the list turns out to be a scam.
Having lost her dream home and not knowing what she is doing now, Michele Parks wants others to know about her broken heart.
“I want others to notice, so they don’t lose money like I do,” she said.
So beware of suspicious rental properties. That way, you won’t waste your money.
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