Beware of rental scams

Throughout the last couple of years we have come to see more and more scammers attempting to get something for nothing.  For some it has been the IRS Phone call scam where someone calls your phone stating their from the Internal Revenue Service and YOU OWE MONEY.  Another has been a scammer calling an elderly person where a younger individual claims they are their grandchild and need money wired right away.  And we can’t forget the infamous scam of identity theft where the “unknown” someone calls pretending to be your credit card company and your card has been compromised so they need your social security number to ensure that you are safe.  I am sickened by these often successful attempts by scammers preying on innocent victims.

Here we have another scam among us ….the RENTAL scam.

When you’re in the market to look for a home to rent, your first step is generally to go online and search for the homes in the areas that you desire for the amount of money that you can afford.

The scammers are going on the web and searching homes that are being listed for rent by property managers and sometimes individual owners.  They are taking the pictures and the verbiage from those online ads and creating their “own” rental listing using this information, however they list it for MUCH less rent and they use a different email address or contact number to reach them.

When someone sees the property that appears “too good to be true”, they jump on it as they know this isn’t going to last long.  They contact the “landlord/owner” and to their surprise this nice person is a missionary or something of this sort and they are out of the state and often out of the country on mission work.  “They are not looking to make a lot of money, but just trying to find the right person who will care for their home the way they would while they’re gone.”  I have even seen the scammers go so far as to use the name of an owner of a home on the street of the property they are listing, which if looked up, is all public information.

They tell the prospective applicant that because they are out of the country they are unable to show them the property themselves to go by and try a door and see if it’s unlocked, if not, they can go through a window.  (You think I am kidding yet it has happens over and over again) Sometimes they even will say that they had a property manager but that manager insisted to rent it for WAY too much (you know because that’s what an owner would wish for is LESS money) and that they management companies sign is still in the yard and they refuse to take it off of their website.  The scammers tell the victim to just disregard that.

Next, they send you an email application and when I say email, I mean they literally have typed out questions in an email and send that to you and you fill out that email questionnaire and send it back.  One of those questions is often if you can send the rent and deposit RIGHT AWAY.

Once you have gotten past their “screening” process, they let you know that you have been approved and they have to overnight the keys to you.  They ask that you wire the money to often an oversees account and the keys will be sent out as soon as that is received.  So people send the money!

This is such a sad situation and has been happening for so long and so often that people are losing money to this scam left and right with no hope or ability to have any recourse on these individuals.  There are currently some police departments that are starting branches of their departments that focus solely on online scams.

If ever in this situations, please contact your local authorities and make sure you share this information perhaps via social media to try to protect others from being scammed by the same person.

Making sure you understand, if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is and that if someone is allowing you to see a property and they are not showing it to you themselves…these should be your FIRST clues that there is a good chance that this is a scam.

Divine Properties wishes you all a very happy and prosperous 2018!  Please reach out to us with all of your property management and real estate needs.