Since I as a REALTOR have had this happen to several of my home for sale listings, I have decided to write this blog post in hopes of helping those families wishing to rent a home, not fall victim to this very popular rental scam.
Did you see a beautiful home listed on Craigslist or other Classified Online Services that claimed to be for rent? Be careful, it could very likely be a scam! And remember, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is....
The scammer searches current online real estate ads for houses for sale, and especially those that appear to be empty. They copy the photos and the description and then make their own online "for rent" advertisement. The monthly rent advertised is usually lower than expected and attracts a lot of attention.
The victim then contacts the scammer through the email address provided and gets a quick response back. In reading this email below, see how the grammar is incorrect, terminology is suspect, and appears to be someone struggling to "write" the English language. Also, the scammer provides way to much information on himself which most legitimate landlords would not tell you as it is irrelevant to your rental.
The response email will look will look something like this:
"Thank for your email regarding my rental home. the home is still available for rent. I'm looking for a responsible tenant and neat person or family who can treat my home as his or her own. We request first month rent and security deposit fee before move in, also you can go by the home and check it out, I believe you have address in the advert and if you like the home then you can write me back so we can get proceeded. A bit about me...I have recently moved to (Las Vegas, NV) to pursue an exciting opportunity I have been given with my job. I work for the Walgreen Co. (Walgreens), with whom I have been employed for almost 17 years. I will be taking the role of District Operations Trainer for the Cleveland District, which stretches all the way through to some other state. It will be a challenge, but one I am very excited about. I support training on new computer system upgrades and on operational process enhancements. I serve as a resource for both Store and Pharmacy Managers to answer and train them on any operations process or change in our company systems. I also do soft skills training on points like basic leadership topics and customer service. I just want you to get notice that the keys are here with me in Las Vegas, NV you can only view the home from the outside for now! If you drive by the home you may see a sign there, you have nothing to worry about it belongs to my previous agent so you have absolutely nothing to worry about and you don't have to call them because they do not have access to the premises anymore! I did not entrust the place in the care of any agent or anyone because I want to deal directly with the tenant myself because of the last experience I had with my tenant. I tried to look for an agent that I could believe and trust to give the document & the keys before I left but could not find any as a matter of urgency. And I don't want the place to be misused in my absence that is why I took the keys and documents along with me and renting this place will give you access to the rest of the property and you won' t have no one to share anything with. So I hope you will promise to take very good care of the property when you move in which is my main concern and I'll love a tenant to landlord relationship between us this is why I want to handle this all by myself, whereby you and I can ask questions, get things done and build a good rental relationship, I want a scenario whereby my tenant and I can communicate as family and not strangers, hope you get my points? Here is an question you need to answer for us to know you more better and use it to fill the original application form with us here in other to proceed on sending the keys and document to you, I'll like to know few things about you and your family such as below General house description: Property type: Single Family Home Address:123 Main Street, Goodlettsville, TN 37072 Bedroom: 3 Bathroom: 2 Monthly Rent: $800 Security Deposit: $800 Total move in cost: $1600 Pet: all pets are welcomed free Utilities are included in the rent. There is also high speed wireless Internet access. SO IF YOU ARE REALLY INTERESTED I WILL WANT YOU TO FILL THE RENT APPLICATION FORM BELOW RENT APPLICATION FORM. Full Name: Home Phone Date of Birth: Other Phone Current Address: Reasons for Leaving: Are you married: How many people will be living in the house: Do you have a pet: Do you have a car: Occupation: How Long You Want the Lease: Move In Date: When do you intended sending me the deposit: When do you intended receiving the keys and document of the house: attach you national id card or drivers liscense any one you have: Please have this in mind that you are talking to a very nice and good family, if you find any of our question inconvenience please don't be offended but answer it because we want and like to know the kind of family that will be living in our house from day one so nothing from them will be strange to us again. Thank you and Stay Blessed. PAUL ALLEN"
The solution is to ignore the scammers insistence "not to contact the listing agent" They like to claim that they had an agent that wasn't doing the job for them and that the agent just has not removed their sign. This is FALSE! The homes are not FOR RENT, but FOR SALE. Call the agent! You will find out that the house is actually for sale, under contract, and has never been for rent!
They also might try to set up a meeting at a different location to collect your deposit. Please, please be careful and don't fall victim to this type of house rental scam.
You may also search homes for rent through legitimate property management companies or real estate agents who specialize in rentals at www.realtracs.com. This is the public website provided by the Middle Tennessee Regional Multiple Listing Service.
If you are interested in homes for sale, please search my website using the links above this blog post.