This past week my eyes were opened up to rental scams involving listings. How the scam works is someone, usually overseas, identifies listed properties that have nice photos and seem to be in desirable areas, especially college towns and "in" neighborhoods. Needless to say this is a headache for all involved! My sister and brother-in-laws home has fallen prey to one of these scams. The picture above is their home, a lovely house for sale in College town Brockport, NY.
Fortunately I was called by a potential renter and once I became aware of the situation, I wrote an ad for the property on Craigs list letting potential renters know this property is not for rent and a victim of a scam. I asked people to contact me if they had contact with the scammer. Many did contact me and I have tried to refer this to the authorities. Unfortunately many times the scammers are out of country, in this case the scammer is in Nigeria.
To create the scam, the scammers lift the information out of the MLS advertising or other ads and post an ad on Craigslist and other web venues, listing the house as a rental. They also identify who the owners are and open then pose as the owner by creating an email address in their name, so that communications seem legitimate.
The scammer prices the rental at below market value to generate a frenzy or urgency with prospective renters that they need to act immediately to snap up the rental before someone else does. Sometimes when people perceive a value, their sense of reason flies out the window!
Some scammers go so far as to break in change the locks and show up to show the property and collect deposits!!!
Moral of the story is if you are in the rental market, be very careful. Never send money to someone via Western Union or bank transfer for a rental. Meet with a property manager or owner to see the property. If You meet with a property manager, be aware all property managers must be NY State licensed Brokers or their agent. They must carry an identification card showing their name, picture and agency name as well as license number. If it is an owner showing you the property, I am sure they will not mind if you ask for identification, prior to issuing deposit and first months rent. Explain you are aware of rental scams and just want to make sure you are dealing with the actual owner. If they refuse run the other way! They might be a scammer or they might be a very difficult housing provider who you would not want to rent from anyway!!!
Look below for an actual communication by the scammer in my sisters case. It is interesting to say the least.
For all your Real estate needs call me! Gini Denninger, Broker of Goodman Realty. 585-760-3880
Thank you for the interest in my house. The house is still available for rent; the house was completely renovated easy access to Public Transportation. The Bedrooms are equipped with everything you need for your stay.
Monthly Rent: $800
Security Deposit Is $600
Total move in cost:$1400
House address: 93 Fayette St Brockport, NY 14420
Utilities are included in the rent.
Minimum rental: 1 month
Maximum rental: 6 years or more.
I will love to have showed you round the house and the inside, but am sorry i am presently out on a missionary trip.I have been posted to the West Africa by the United State Christian Organization for (Worldwide Missionary Outreach). We are now in West Africa for the Missionary work and so all you can do is drive by the home anytime. i wanted to sell it before and later changed my mind to rent it out for investment purposes since i might still come back some time 5 years or more to come. So we have ordered them to stop all advertisement about the home for sale and that will be effective asap. So i wouldn't want that to bother you at all I could not find an honest agent to hand over the place before leaving so i and my wife decided to post the property online. Here is our rental application form that you will have to fill if you are still interested in this house.
RENT APPLICATION FORM.
Name (First name/ Middle name/Surname ) : __________?
Phone # : __________?
E-mail : __________?
Best time to call : __________?
How many proposed occupants : __________?
List all in addition to yourself including approx age : __________?
Present Address : __________?
City/State : __________?
Will you have pets : __________?
Please describe Breed, size : __________?
Personality of pet : __________?
Preferred move in date : __________?
Intended length of lease: __________?
Earliest possible date of deposit payment: __________?
Length of previous tenancy : __________?
Present occupation : __________?
Are you a section 8 applicant : __________?
Do you run a business from home : __________?
If so what kind of business : __________?
Do you work late night : __________?
Do you smoke : __________?
Do you drink : __________?
I CERTIFY that answers given herein are true and complete to the best of my knowledge. I authorize investigation of all statements contained in this application for tenant screening as may be necessary in arriving at a tenant decision. I understand that the landlord may terminate any rental agreement entered into for any misrepresentation made above.Here is my contact my cell phone number you can reach me on anytime so that i can attend to you better +2347043099033 or 0112347043099033
Best Regards and Remain Blessed