Don’t Be The Victim Of An Online Rental Scam!

Phoenix Homes For RentWith the economy slowly recovering and rental rates, for much of the valley, at all time highs there is a tremendous interest in any rental property that looks like a deal.

I received a call yesterday from a young woman interested in renting a home I had recently put on the MLS. She ask if I was the owner and I told her that I was the listing agent. She told me that she had been contacted, (email), by the owner after answering an ad placed in http://www.realrentals.com/ and was confused.

My MLS listing showed the monthly lease rate at $1850 and the owner’s ad had the rate much lower. I ask her for more details and this is the story she told. “The owner was on her way to Africa, on business, and was hoping to get the home rented before leaving, the current occupants lease was up and they would be leaving next month. She, the prospective renter, wouldn’t be able to see inside the home since it was occupied and the owner would need first and last month’s rent but would waive the security deposit since the property couldn’t be inspected.”

I informed her that I just got off the phone with the owner who was a stay-at-home mom living in Kansas and she failed to mention anything about a trip to Africa or a reduction in list price and that anyone living in the home was trespassing. In other words, she was being scammed.

I was curious if this had happened before and went to the Better Business Bureau web site where I found this regarding realrentals.com

“It has recently come to BBB’s attention that this business is the victim of an ongoing rental scam. According to information provided to BBB; foreign entities are posting fake listings on this company’s website and collecting cash deposits for rentals which are not real listings or available for rent. Consumers state that their homes are being listed without their consent and consumers seeking rentals are paying $600 upfront deposits to entities overseas. Any consumers with further information about these entities posting on RealRentals.com are encouraged to contact local law enforcement as well as send any further info to info@arizonabbb.org and the company itself. According to our accredited business; they do not charge an upfront fee for their listing services, They are doing everything they can to combat the fake postings and remove them the moment they are discovered.”

Even the National Asscociation of Realtors has had it’s name used in the rental scam business.

“The National Association of REALTORS® has learned that its good name is being used as part of a property rental scam. In this scam, rental property is offered to consumers, who are led to believe that NAR is functioning as an intermediary to receive rental deposits from prospective tenants and, upon receipt of the deposit, to deliver the keys to the property to the tenant. The tenant is instructed to send money via Western Union to NAR’s purported agent. NAR is not involved in this business and believes it is a scam. NAR has contacted law enforcement officials to request that the matter be investigated.”

As with all open posting sites, there is a potential for fraudulent information to be posted. There are many variations on this type of scam and renters have to be aware of this and check out the reputation of the posting site and the poster. And let’s be honest if it feels a little weird or too good to be true, you’re probably being scammed.

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