“Online Rental Property – IT’S A STEAL!!!”

So, you’re looking for a house to rent with certain specifications.  You need an affordable house in a nice neighborhood with about 3 bedrooms.  The ideal house comes available on Craigslist, and it’s a deal that you can’t pass up.  It’s a 3-bedroom in a nice neighborhood, convenient to your work, and the asking price is $350 per month.  What a deal!  You contact the Property Owner through email, who just happens to be outside of the country.  This isn’t a problem.  It just means that communication will be done through email.

dream home1 214x300 “Online Rental Property – ITS A STEAL!!!”

The Property Owner needs a deposit.  We’ll call him “John”.  His requested method of payment is through money transfer.  John, who wants you to feel secure with this method of payment, asks you to send a mock $2500 payment to a friend.  You do, and John asks you for a copy of the receipt.  With this information, John then drives to the nearest Western Union or MoneyGram, depending on what service you used, and picks up the money.  How is this possible??  The money that you sent to your friend is being picked up by someone in a foreign country.  “John” isn’t even the name of the friend, who you sent the money to.  Apparently, all that is needed is a special number on the receipt and no form of identification for a person to pick up a money transfer, anywhere in the world.

Ok, so no big deal.  After all, you needed to send a deposit to John for this awesome house anyway.  John is going to send a representative to the house, and you agree upon a date and time with him.  You go to meet this man “Gary”, and he never shows.  All along, there’s been a realtor sign on the property with a number to call for interest, but through it all, John has been telling you not to call it because that realtor had quit.

Up to this point, you listened to him, but after several ‘no-shows’ of his representative missing appointments, you decide to call the number of the realtor listed on the property.  What you find out is that the realtor is still working and the said property is for rent but not for $350.  The realtor has no affiliation with this “John” or “Gary”.  Apparently, the house for sale advertisement had been borrowed without permissions and reposted.  In fact, you aren’t the only one, who has been taken by this “John” guy.  The realtor’s phone has been ringing off the hook by individuals taken by this scam.  The realtor has reported the incidences to the police, but since the con artist is operating overseas, little can be done.  Internet crime is a huge problem, growing bigger by the day.

If a scenario like this should occur, insist on taking a tour of the home and make sure the representative is available at the house with the agreement papers.  Additionally, credentials should be checked out before one penny is sent.  Call your local BBB and request information on the renter.  Never send money transfer payments to someone you have never met.  They are an unsecured way of making payments.  Remember, anyone with the transaction number can pick up the money anywhere in or outside the United States.  Don’t be duped by this scheme!

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About Kristal Heffley

Ad Review and Social Media Specialist of BBB serving Northern Indiana. Kristal spends a great deal of time learning, writing about, and educating the public on scams of the day. She also is quite the social-media enthusiast and community partner. You can follow her posts, i.e. BBB serving Northern Indiana on Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and of course, our blog.