Real Estate Scams says Carol

October 26, 2011
Are you putting down a rental deposit that allows you to move in --- or will someone move on with your money?

Real estate scams are prevalent today and are showing no signs of going away. A common form of these scams involves a con artist advertising a house as a rental when it is not. In fact, it’s a house that is actually for sale and being advertised on a legitimate real estate company’s website.

The con artist takes the picture from the website and puts it on his fraudulent website. He advertises on craigslist that the house is for rent, asking for first and last month’s rent. A web address is given to view the house. The prospective tenant checks out the house online and sends the deposit. Many times con artists ask their victims to wire the money.

Once the money is gone there is no getting it back. The con artist is probably in Canada and the website is gone. He’s moved on to his next victim.

Being proactive is your defense. Do your homework before sending any money to anyone you don’t know.
  • First, check with your state assessor’s office to determine who owns the property.
  • Second, google the address and see if the property shows up on any real estate website for rent or for sale. If the property that was advertised for rent on craigslist shows up for sale on a real estate website, there is a serious problem. Contact the real estate company and apprise them of the situation.
  • Third, if possible, contact the neighbors of the property you are planning on renting. Ask them about the owner and status of the property. Is it for sale? Or rent? Or in foreclosure?
  • Fourth, don’t wire money. Any time you are asked to wire money you should consider that a deal breaker.
  • Five, check with the bank that holds the mortgage to make sure it is not in foreclosure.
Today’s housing problems coupled with con artists ability to use technology to deceive consumers, makes it a necessity to do your homework before sending rental deposits.