There are scammers out there who take listing information of legitimate homes for sale and try to dupe potential renters into sending them money in exchange for a rental agreement. This is becoming a pervasive trend throughout the country and people are falling for it. Vacation rentals are also targeted.
The scammers offer ridiculously low rents to attract renters – many of whom have problems trying to find rentals due to poor credit. The scammers scour the internet for listings to use and copy the photos, listing information, and address. They will even look up the seller’s name and use it in their correspondence with potential renters.
The email response to your rental inquiry may read something like this:
I can see you are interested in renting the house I have listed, I am currently in West Africa where I work as a volunteer with the GOODNESS AND MERCY MISSION. So I need a tenant to take care of it since I am out of the states now. I have already received some proposals regarding the rent because it is located in a very good area.
I could not get a hold of any Realtor to handle this rent issue, although it was when I knew how long we are going to stay in Africa that I decided to rent out the house.... However, the initial plan was to sell the house. Which I tried, but sometimes agents inflate the price and it takes longer to sell. I am telling you this in case you find the house on another website for sale.
I left behind some electronics which are included in the rent such as a plasma TV, a DVD player, computer, air conditioning, and alarm system. The kitchen is fully equipped with all necessary cooking utensils, a refrigerator, freezer, oven, microwave, dishwasher, washer and dryer.
The keys to the house are here with me and the rental documents which I can send to you after your application has been accepted. Also I would like you to know that the rent charges are not really the issue, but your absolute maintenance of my house is the most important thing so please get back to me with the application form below.
1) Your Full Name____
2) Your Full Address & Phone #____
3) How old are you____
4) Are you married____
5) How many people will be living in the house____
6) Do you have children____ Ages?
7) Do you have a car____
8) Do you have a pet____
10) Monthly income____
11) When will you like to move____
12) How long will you like to rent the property____
13) Reason for relocating____
14) How many months rent can you pay upfront? Minimum (1 month + security deposit) or (2 months + security deposit). Which option do you prefer?___
So if you are still interested, note that the rent is going to be $700 and the security deposit is going to be $600. I look forward to hearing from you with all these details so that I can have it in my file in case of renting to you and being able to contact you. I await your urgent reply so that we can discuss how to get the rental documents and the keys of the house to you.
Pastor Lying Thief
What are the red flags that the rental ad is not legitimate?
- The owner is out of the country working as a missionary.
- The owner is unavailable to show the home and says to drive by and judge by the photos online.
- The owner wants you to send or transfer money overseas.
- The owner uses odd email addresses and overseas phone numbers.
- The deal is “too good to be true” (i.e. ridiculously low rent, no credit screening, utilities included, electronics/furnishings included).
Don’t fall prey to the lure of someone posing as the owner of a rental property. If you see a suspicious ad on Craigslist, report it immediately. And if you want to be sure that you won’t get duped, don’t go it alone, work with a Realtor to find a rental. A real estate agent can ensure that a rental is legitimate.
The Scott Loper Team includes Scott & Lisa Loper, Keller Williams Real Estate, 601 Bethlehem Pike, Bldg B, Ste 100, Montgomeryville, PA 18936, (215) 631-1900, www.ScottLoperTeam.com.