Real estate agents and law enforcement officials in Las Vegas have issued a warning about a new scam targeting renters in the area, which has also been reported in other areas of the U.S.
The scam involves fraudsters posting ads for housing on websites such as Craigslist, offering a vacant property for rent. Interested persons call the number, go to view the home, sign a contract, put up[ a deposit and then move into the property and start paying rent, thinking everything is perfectly fine. But in actual fact, the person who they believe is their landlord actually has nothing to do with the property they're living in.
Instead, the so-called 'landlord' simply pockets the money from rent that he has absolutely no right to claim, say police.
The scammers usually target foreclosed homes or those properties which have been sitting vacant for a long time, which is why they have been able to get away with most of their ruses, reports KTNV.
According to relator Brenda Crosbie-Jaeger, whose offices are based in Las Vegas, the scammers know exactly what they are doing. They pose as real estate agents themselves, and they can be very convincing, creating fake documents for lease agreements and crafting forged signatures of the properties real owners. They even go as far as to change the locks on the homes they are 'renting' out, so that the new tenants can have a key to let themselves in.
Prospective tenants are advised by the police to check that realtors and real estate management firms are fully licensed, and also check that they are who they are claiming to be, before doing any business with them. Otherwise, those new tenants could find themselves in for a nasty shock a few months later on down the road.