Members of the Community Losing Thousands of Dollars to a Rental Scam
We're bringing you an exclusive story. Local detectives tell Your Local ABC about a rental scam that has claimed thousands of dollars from members of the community.
Detectives tell us they are working on a case of a a recently sold home being posted to Craigslist as a rental property.
When people contacted the phone number posted, they were told to wire money to an account in order receive the keys to tour the property.
Of the dozen people inquiring about the property on W. 5th Place in Kennewick, two of them fell for the scam, each losing out on $1,500 dollars.
Once they wired the money to the account, they drove by the property, contacted the realtor whose number was posted on a sign outside to get the keys, only to find out the property was sold to someone else and was never available as a rental.
Detectives tell us the people behind the post are likely international scammers, using a computer system to create a fake U.S. phone number.
In this particular case, the scammer said he was in Michigan and needed the money wired to him n order to secure the home.
The owner of Smart Realtors, which sold the house, said he's seen this scam many times before and seen many people fall victims to it.
"People are looking for a great deal and a lot of these houses have a good down payment, not a very high one, but they'll have a very low rental rate," said Jeff Smart. "You can find a four bedroom home, I think they were advertising this one for $500-$600/ mo., so you're going to notice it."
A few websites to look out for are craigslist.com and hotpads.com.
Scammers typically take a real listing and copy it over with their information to trick the victims.
The main take away here, do your research, if you find a posting you're interested in, drive by the location, contact the realtor and set up an appintment to check it out, something that ususally does not require a hefty deposit to do so.
"If something seems too good to be true, it probably is," said Smart.