Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rental and Real Estate Scams

Individuals need to be cautious when posting rental properties and real estate on-line.
The IC3 continues to receive numerous complaints from individuals who have fallen
victim to scams involving rentals of apartments and houses, as well as postings
of real estate on-line.

Rental scams occur when the victim has rental property advertised and is contacted
by an interested party. Once the rental price is agreed-upon, the scammer forwards
a check for the deposit on the rental property to the victim. The check is to cover
housing expenses and is, either written in excess of the amount required, with the
scammer asking for the remainder to be remitted back, or the check is written for
the correct amount, but the scammer backs out of the rental agreement and asks for
a refund. Since the banks do not usually place a hold on the funds, the victim has
immediate access to them and believes the check has cleared. In the end, the check
is found to be counterfeit and the victim is held responsible by the bank for all
losses.

Another type of scam involves real estate that is posted via classified advertisement
websites. The scammer duplicates postings from legitimate real estate websites and
reposts these ads, after altering them. Often, the scammers use the broker's real
name to create a fake email, which gives the fraud more legitimacy. When the victim
sends an email through the classified advertisement website inquiring about the
home, they receive a response from someone claiming to be the owner. The "owner"
claims he and his wife are currently on missionary work in a foreign country. Therefore,
he needs someone to rent their home while they are away. If the victim is interested
in renting the home, they are asked to send money to the owner in the foreign country.

If you have been a victim of Internet crime, please file a complaint at
http://www.IC3.gov/.

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