There's a new scam that is gaining traction, especially in this difficult housing crisis we are in.
A scammer will post pictures of an attractive property for rent at a reasonable price.
The unsuspecting victim will email or message the scammer, asking for details.
Said scammer will carefully manipulate the victim, arranging for first month, last month and a deposit, all while avoiding the target's requests to see the property in person.
Once the money is transferred to the scammer via Venmo or Zelle, the scammer cuts off all contact with the victim and walks away with the money.
Of course, there never was a property for rent, or sometimes the scammer will use a real property and just pose as the owner.to get to the money.
Either way, the scam leaves the victim homeless and a lot lighter in the wallet.
“We have seen a significant increase in the amount of money being lost by people who are desperate for a good deal. Scammers are cashing in on renters who need to act quickly for fear of missing out, and it’s costing consumers thousands of dollars, and in some cases, leaving them stranded,” said FBI agent Joseph R. Bonavolonta. “We are asking everyone to exercise caution, especially over the next few months, as folks look to book last minute summer getaways.”
On the FBI website, officials are warning the public to be vigilant. "According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which provides the public with a means of reporting Internet-facilitated crimes, there has been a steady increase in losses reported by victims of real estate/rental scams in the last three years. Nationwide, in 2021, 11,578 people reported losing $350,328,166 due to these types of scams which is a 64% increase from the previous year."
The FBI offers this advice to avoid becoming a victim:
- Do not wire funds to people you do not know.
- Do not put money toward a house or apartment you have not seen.
- Confirm the identity of the landlord by researching public records to find out who owns the property you are seeking to rent or purchase.
- Do not fill out applications online until you have met directly with the property manager.
- Know local rental prices.
- Look for online reviews, references, and testimonials from past inhabitants.
- Be wary if a potential tenant wants to rent property sight unseen.
- Be wary if a potential renter says they are out of town and will send you a cashiers’ check.
- Be wary if a potential landlord says he is out of the country and wants the rent sent to a foreign account.
- Do not accept overpayment for properties. If you receive a check for more than the specified amount, return it. Do not deposit it.
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