If you're in the market to rent a home, beware of the "deals" you find on Craigslist. There's a chance you could get
ripped off! This Scam first surfaced about two years ago and not only has it not gone away - it's growing. The Midland
Board of REALTORS® reports they have seen increased activity of rental scams in the area within the last 60 days.
The Scam artist take photos and property information from agents websites of local homes for sale or lease, place them
on web sites like Craigslist, and lure potential renters to wire or mail deposits and advanced rent via bank certified
checks or money orders, along with personal & confidential information, duping a growing number would-be renters
and opening them up to potential identity theft.
The scam often involves claims that the real estate agent handling the property has recently been fired, so people
should ignore the sign in front of the house and not bother to call that agent. They should instead deal with the owner
via email or a phone number the supposed owner provides. Scammers also like to claim they are out of the area helping
ailing relatives or out of the country working as missionaries. These scam artists use fake e-mail addresses that might
include the property address or owners last name. Posing as the owner (or leasing agent), they provide lease paper
work and instructions for submitting the deposit and advance rent and in some instances, even go as far as to send keys
once payment has been received.
The victims then show up at the property or real estate office to pick up a key, on the day they believe to be moving
day, with their life's possessions packed in the rental van, ready to move in, only to learn that they were scammed out
of thousands of dollars and additionally have given personal & confidential information to a scam artist now posing a
possible identity theft.
MIDLAND BOARD OF REALTORS® has advised its member REALTORS® to report the scam to Craigslist and inform the
local police once they've learned of the fraudulent postings but scammers can be tough to trace!
Midland Board of REALTORS® advises prospective renters that no one should ever rent a property that they haven't
been shown by the owner or a real estate professional and warns prospective renters to be wary of supplying
confidential personal information to anyone via email or phone AND never send or wire any funds to anyone you have
not first verified as a reputable source!
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