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Posted on: February 2, 2017

Rental Listing Scams

Recently we have seen evidence of Rental Listing Scams occurring here in Orono. In short a scammer will list a property that is already advertised for sale and require a renter to send funds or provide personal information without the opportunity to see the house offered for rent. If you are looking to rent a house, apartment, or any other property, please read the following. 

How Do Rental Listing Scams Work?

Is someone asking you to send them money via Western Union, Moneygram, or Prepaid Visa Card? Have the owners moved to another state and cannot show you the property? Found a deal that’s too good to turn down? These are possible signs of rental listing scams used to defraud users into wiring money or giving up personal information.

Scammers use a variety of tools and methods to post fraudulent listings on many internet listing sites. One method includes listing available properties by copying existing listings and posting them with new prices or “mark downs”. They also take existing for-sale properties and post them as rentals. Lastly, they use listing management tools and syndicate the fraud across many different sites.

Once you’ve contacted a scammer, they usually ask for a few things – information, urgency, and money through Western Union, Moneygram, or a Prepaid Visa Card. Stop right there!

What can I do to reduce my risk of being scammed?

  • Research the email address and phone number of the landlord or owner on Google. You might find that someone else has already posted a report on this individual.
  • Don’t fill out an application until you’ve seen the property. Some apartment communities will offer legitimate applications via a property’s website, but don’t submit an application with personal information until you’ve verified the property exists.
  • Never, under any circumstances, send money to anyone without securing a lease and confirming the property manager has a legal right to rent the property.

What should I do if I am being scammed?

Contact your local law enforcement agency and report the experience to them.

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