NEW YORK – Early summer is a busy time for the real estate market but scam artists are trying to take advantage of people looking for a new home to rent.
Kyle Stark is selling his Indianapolis home so he was shocked when someone stopped by and said they had made a deal to rent it. "They wanted to meet me because they said they were moving in this weekend."
It’s a scam real estate agents are seeing nationwide.
"They’re using real listings and changing the phone numbers and changing the name of the owners so that people think they are getting a really good deal in the area," said Realtor Bobbete Gonzalez.
Con artists lift pictures and descriptions from actual real estate listings, then create their own fake ads. One Houston home was listed to rent for $2,300 a month but a scammer posted it on Facebook for just $800.
"We really urge people to look out for this one," advised Katherine Hutt with the Better Business Bureau who added that Criminals try to convince potential victims they have to rent the property fast without seeing it first.
"Everything is done by phone or email and they ask for the money to be wired ahead of time, usually they are asking for some kind of a payment that is not traceable, a wire transfer a prepaid debit card that kind of thing and once the money is sent it’s gone," Hutt said.
That Houston house with the fake Facebook ad has had so many people come by to view it, the real owners put a sign on the front door warning the 850 dollar price is a phony.
Hutt says spotting those red flags can keep renters looking for a good deal from falling victim to this scam.