Northwest MLS sent out this e-mail warning of rental home scams in our area, I thought it was important to share.
Residential Listings Fraudulently Posted as Rentals
A Bellevue neighbor noticed a suspicious vehicle in front of a vacant home. When confronted, he was told that the house was being advertised on Craigslist for rent. The Broker called the ad and noted the rent was way below market and the “landlord” wanted money for keys.
The selling agent was advised to have owner get locks changed ASAP. Bellevue Police have been contacted.
Active residential listings are being posted by scam artists to a number of legitimate rental websites, including Hotpad, LiveLovely.com, Trovit.com, RentJungle.com, ChoiceofHomes.com, ebayclassifieds and olx.com.
The perpetrator posts listing details such as the address, listing photos and verbiage in the false ad. While each scam is slightly different, they often have these similarities:
- The scammer pretends to be the homeowner or listing broker
- The contact email address in the fraudulent ad may include the name(s) of the actual owner or listing broker
- The scammer claims to be out of the area and asks the renter to inspect the property on their own rather than meeting in person
- The scammer claims that the keys will be sent after a rental application, application fee, deposit, or first month’s rent is received
NWMLS encourages listing brokers to follow these steps
- Perform an internet search to find any fraudulent rental ads for your listed properties
- Contact each website to remove the fraudulent ad and report the fraudulent activity
- File a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). IC3 is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), funded in part by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). The IC3 website also offers an FAQ Section with additional information about reporting online crime.