Aug 22, 2013

Protect your Home from leasing scams

Scams involving homes for sale are becoming more and more common. Nothing makes my blood boil more than thieves and scammers. I've had direct experience with several of them and believe me, these folks have their rip offs down to an art. They make very good money swindling people.

The most common scam involves these crooks listing a home for lease that is actually a home for sale. Typically they present it as a house "for lease" at a very attractive monthly fee. This false lease listing will then appear on many sites such as Zillow, Trulia, HotPads, Craigslist and many more. Next thing you know, some poor schmuck appears at your door wanting to know when they can move in.

How do they do it?
  • The scammer steals the information and photos from the 'for sale' listing details about the property, looks up the real owners name on the tax rolls, and offers the property for lease online.
  • They offer the property for lease significantly lower in price than comparable properties in the area.
  • A potential tenant sees an opportunity to get a "steal" of a deal on a property and emails the scammer ( who is using the agent's or real owner's name).
  • The scammer claims they've decided to lease instead of sell and says they are currently out of town. The crook typically has a great story about wanting someone responsible to take care of the property vs. a higher rent.
  • The scammer asks for deposit to be wired to London, Madrid, California, ... to secure the home at that low price.
  • The potential tenant ignores common sense and wires money to the scammer.
How can the scammer list properties for lease without permission? Many websites allow anyone to list items for sale, including real estate, without first proving ownership. Thankfully, I've quickly discovered each time one of my listings has been the target of a scam and I aggressively deal with these fraudulent listings. I can usually get the listings removed within hours. But it sure takes a lot of time and effort preventing and dealing with crooks like this.

Since these criminals aren't going away, you may want to be aware of how to watch for them when your home is for sale. Law enforcement agencies will only become involved once someone has lost money to these thieves.[where: 75230]

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