The Better Business Bureau has warned realtors and people looking to rent property to watch out for false adverts on popular websites such as Craigslist when they are looking to sell a home or to rent somewhere. According to an article on KETK NBC, fraudulent adverts for rental properties are appearing right across the country, and most aim to steal money from people looking to rent.
The fraudsters claim to be out of the country, and therefore are unable to show the property or to provide additional photos if requested. However it's more likely that they live locally as the properties for sale signs soon disappear once the ad is posted on the Internet. The criminals perpetrating these frauds typically look for websites with houses for sale before stealing the information and re-posting it with their e-mail address under properties for rent. The properties are generally listed with low rental rates, and this is attributed to the fact that the owner had to leave the country in a hurry for a new job or a missionary contract.
Unfortunately people answering these ads are asked to wire money as a deposit, but as soon as the money is received the listing disappears, and of course no keys are ever provided. Even worse the renters may have been asked to fill out a credit application, and the information given can then be used to commit identity theft. Many people have found the Internet a convenient way of searching for a rental property, but anyone currently looking needs to be aware of the signs that something might be wrong.
Generally speaking if a deal sounds to be good to be true then it's likely to be a scam, and renters are warned to research average rental rates in the area. If a property is advertised with a suspiciously low rental rate then it's probably worth giving it a wide berth. The same goes for any landlord that claims to be out of the country and who can only communicate through e-mail. Renters are far better off only dealing with property management companies or real estate agents that they can meet with face-to-face.
Any reputable property company will allow potential renters to thoroughly inspect the property before asking for any kind of deposit. Deposits that have to be sent through wire transfer services such as Money Gram or Western Union will be near impossible to retrieve. The Better Business Bureau also suggests that potential renters and realtors do an Internet search for newly listed properties just to make sure the details haven't been used by fraudsters.