Henderson realtor warns public of rental housing scam
HENDERSON, Ky. (WFIE) - According to FC Tucker Collier Realtor Shelbi Carroll, roughly four out of five vacant listings are being scalped by people online as part of a rental scam.
“The whole scam is to get the security deposit,” explains Carroll.
Carroll says what happens is, people will go on their website and look for what appear to be vacant listings. She says it’s important to note that these listings are for sale, not for rent.
The scammers find a suitable looking house, grab all of the pictures and information they need, and transfer it over to social media, promising potential scrollers a place they can call home. Of course, they’ll need a security deposit first.
“Some will give a big sob story as to why they can’t meet them,” says Carroll. “Long story short, there’s always a reason why they can’t meet them in person, and even here recently they’ve gotten smarter, and they will say, ‘send me the deposit and I’ll meet you tomorrow,’ and then tomorrow they blow them off.”
Carroll says a lack of rentals in the area combined with what looks to be an official listing is what can con people out of some serious money.
“A lot of the houses we sell will be three to four bedroom, and it’s not uncommon for it to be $1000 to $1200 deposits,” says Carroll.
Carroll says they’ve seen it time and time again, somebody calls with questions after they drove by to check the property out but saw a “for sale” sign in the yard.
With the relevancy of the scam, Carroll says you’ve got to know what to watch out for. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
“Honestly, once that money’s been sent, we have no control. Always drive by. If there’s a for sale sign in the yard, it will not be for rent,” explains Carroll. “The most red flag is do not supply a deposit if you can’t see it. No landlord is going to rent you a place and not allow you access inside the home.”
Carroll says they want to spread the word because it’s almost like three separate issues in one.
Not only are these people who have searched and searched for a place disappointed, but they’ve lost the money in the deposit, and despite informing law enforcement, it’s proven incredibly difficult to track the social media users down, so nobody really faces any retribution.
Carroll asks that if you’re in the market to rent: be vigilant, and if you’re in doubt, call a professional.
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