There’s an online scam that’s becoming increasingly prevalent in markets nationwide. Here’s what to watch out for.
Here in our Southern California market, and also nationwide, there’s a very particular scam that’s gaining traction. Today I’ll tell you what you need to look out for so that you can protect yourself and those you know from becoming a victim.
These scammers are preying on our renters who are looking for places to rent. They’ll find a property that’s been posted for sale, and then they’ll copy the information, photos, and description of the property and then post it on another website for rent, usually at a really low price.
The unwitting renter will see this property for rent and get excited about the price. With all the details and the photos, they have no reason to suspect that anything is amiss. They’ll contact the person pretending to be the landlord of the property, who will tell them one of the following things:
- The victim is told to fill out an online application. Here, the scammer is trying to mine your social security numbers.
- They’ll tell the victim that they’re currently out of town and will ask them to mail them a check for, say, $1,000. After this, they say that they’ll mail them a key to the property, and if the victim doesn’t like the property, they can just return the key and the scammer will, of course, “return the $1,000.” The victim will never see that money again.
We’ve seen this happen over and over again, and we wanted to warn you about it so that you can protect yourself and those you know and love who are looking for a place to rent. If you see a property for rent and the rent seems too good to be true, that’s good cause to be suspicious.
Also, never give out your personal information to anyone unless you know and trust them. If they ask you to fill out an online application, don’t do it until you’ve personally seen the property and you can verify that they are, in fact, the landlord of the property. If you do see anything suspicious, feel free to reach out to someone you know and trust who can take a look at the listing and let you know if your suspicions are warranted.
For my part, I’d be happy to take a look at it and let you know if it’s a scam. If you have any questions about real estate scams or about buying and selling homes, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d love to help you.