3OYS: Beware of home rental scams

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by LiAna Gonzales

azfamily.com

Posted on February 21, 2014 at 10:25 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 21 at 10:40 PM

PHOENIX -- Justin Reiss owns a property management company in Phoenix and says while he's busy leasing homes, scammers are busy conning his potential renters.

Reiss' company has had a two-bedroom, three-bathroom house on the market for a few months. He's not advertising it for rent on Craigslist, but that's exactly where he saw it listed after an interested renter brought it to his attention.

"We had someone call us and she was asking about the rent, and the first thing that popped up is that the rent was about $300 less than what we currently have it advertised for," Reiss said.
 
With a few clicks of a mouse, a scammer had copied Reiss' photographs of the home and reposted them on Craigslist.

Infuriated, Reiss pretended he was an interested renter and replied to the Craigslist ad.
 
Since then, he has exchanged numerous text messages with the scammer, who eventually gave him a rental application. She also said she needed a rental deposit before she could hand over the keys, which she does not have since she has nothing to do with the property.
      
“I could have easily paid this lady money and, you know, been stuck out here waiting for her to give me the keys and let me in so I could move in," Reiss said.
 
3 On Your Side has reported on scams like this before, and they are still alive and well.

To avoid becoming conned, Reiss advises potential renters to investigate properties they are interested in.

For example, research the phone number and name on the sign in front of the home to ensure it matches the ad you're responding to.

Also, find out who is listed as the property owner through the Maricopa County Tax Assessor's Office so you know who you should be renting from.

Finally, don't be deceived by inexpensive rent, which is often the scammer's hook to reel you in.
 
"If the advertised price looks too good to be true, it probably is," Reiss said.

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