A New Twist on an Old Scam

Rental ScamLast night I met with some people at a vacant home in Plano. They had responded to a Craigslist advertisement for a rental home. They had met with the “owner” at the property and put down a deposit to hold it. They were supposed to meet with the owner at a later date to sign the lease. The problem is the home is not for lease and the “owner” is a scammer.

We did a story with CW33 last year (Online Rental Scam Targets Real Estate Listings) on a similar type of scam being run on consumers.  Since most people are wary enough not to wire money, so it appears the scammers have grown bolder and have found a new way to perpetrate the fraud. They actually meet their victims in person.

The scammer gains access to the property by obtaining the combination lockbox code for the property, creates an online advertisement, and goes about collecting applications and rental deposits.  Once they “approve” the tenant, they set up a meeting to collect the deposit. In this case, the scammer gave the victim access to the property so they could begin moving in their things early. They knew something was wrong when another victim arrived at the home to meet with the “owner” and turn over a rental deposit.

If the deal sounds too good to be true, it usually is.  When in doubt, contact a local real estate professional. Not only will you have professional representation, but the fee is usually paid by the landlord.

See all Plano Rental and Lease Home Listings.

Tom Branch, Broker, CDPE, SFR