The Greater Kalamazoo Association of Realtors®, Risk Management Committee recently released this article regarding rental scams. We thought the information was well worth passing on.
Real Estate Scams – Rental
You list a property and put photos and a description of this wonderful home on every website you can get your
hands on. Scammers copy your marketing materials and utilize public information to glean the name of the seller.
The photos, description and even the owners name are used in a classified ad on any number of online resources:
Craigslist, Trulia, Hotpads, Zillow, Rent.com, etc. Most of these resources are free and anyone can create a free
email address through Gmail, Yahoo, etc. for use with these free online ads.
Prospective tenants find the ad online and correspond with the scammer via email. Here are some of the common
lines that the scammer will use:
“I am out of town and must rent the property quickly and will send the keys and the lease as soon as you
send me the first month rent and security deposit. “
“I am concerned about scammers and will not do anything until I receive the rent and security deposit up
front because I have been scammed before and don’t want to deal with dishonest people.”
“Don’t call the listing agent because I am firing them. They have lied to other potential tenants because
they only want to sell the property and I have decided I want to rent it.”
These and many other stories are used to persuade a perspective tenant into sending money and not contacting
anyone else regarding the property. Even if the perspective tenant looks into the public record they discover the
name of the owner to be the same as the person that they are communicating with. The tenant sends the money
and waits for the keys.
1. Most of these scam rental offerings are below market rate. (If it is too good to be true)
2. The property is for sale by a professional but for rent by owner
3. The “owner” is not in the area and communication is done via email
4. Money is demanded upfront to be sent by mail with a promise that keys will be sent soon
5. There is a sense of urgency on the part of the landlord / scammer.
A number of prospective tenants have sent money to these scammers in this area. Listing agents get a call asking
when the keys will be sent and this is the first moment we realize that this has been going on. There is no real way
to stop these efforts of scamming the public.
If you become aware of a fraudulent ad you should consider the following:
1. Alert your client to the fraudulent ad
2. Contact the website provider and report the fraudulent ad
3. Consider posting a sign or note on the door of the property to inform potential tenants that may visit the
exterior of the home that the property is not for rent and that the ad is fraudulent
4. Contact local authorities to report the fraudulent ad.