In my first post I talked about how to avoid being taken by a real estate rental con-artist. In this post I will talk about how these scams actually work. There are lots of ways a rental scam can take shape – so I will focus on what I have seen locally in the Cincinnati rental market.
How a Real Estate Rental Scam Works
I absolutely condemn real estate scams and think they are bad for renters, bad for agents, and bad for the market! This post describes how the scam works so renters can avoid it!
The scam starts when a con-artists researches real estate listings on public sites. They copy the images and the property description and use it to create an add for a rental. In reality the home may be for sale, already sold, or be vacant. It is absolutely not for rent!
The con-artists research rental rates in the areas so they can create a realistic rental posts on a sites like Craigslist. Below is a scam rental listing. It looks real – good pictures, good property description, appropriated price – but the house sold to new homeowners 3 months ago and they’ve moved in! I showed this exact house a month before it sold, and that is how I knew this listing was fake! I called the Realtors involved in the transaction to alert them and this is how I learned about the rental scams.
If you called the phone number on the ad (removed) the lessor is eager to show you the home, and asks for an application and a non-refundable rental application check. It will be a very low amount, so you will not mind paying it. The application has space for personal information including your current address and SSN#.
On the day of the showing, at the last minute, the home is not available . Maybe it just ‘rented’, maybe the homeowner ‘changed their mind’. You may be taken to an alternate home that ‘is for rent’. More than like likely you will not be interested in the alternate home, be frustrated, and ask for your rental application check back. You will get it back and be on your way, unaware of danger you are now in.