Don’t Waste Your Money: Rental scams surge

Don't Waste Your Money
Houses for rent

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

(WHTM) — With homes and apartments so tough to find this year. many renters are desperate to find anything. That’s how one woman ended falling victim to the rental scam.

Mariah Dates had no luck finding a rental home until a cute, two-bedroom house popped up on Facebook Marketplace for just $700 a month.

“I emailed the realtor, and she emailed me back, with pictures of the house and everything,” Dates said. Thrilled, she drove to the house.

“It’s a real house. Yes. You went and looked at it? Yes. You can go see it,” Dates said.

So she immediately filled out this application and sent a deposit and two months’ rent via the Zelle app. “I ended up sending the money for the deposit and the rent, but never got the keys,” Dates said.

No keys, and no response from the landlord ever again. Turns out, the listing was fake. The photos were real but stolen from a recent For Sale listing of the home.

It was never for rent. The so-called realtor? A hacked Facebook page.

“How much money have you lost? It all comes out to $2,145,” Dates said.

The rental scam is becoming so common this year because of the red hot housing market. With home prices so high, more people are trying to rent homes making them easy prey for scammers.

To help prevent this from happening, the FTC says to be suspicious of rental listings if:

  • the Landlord wants a deposit before you have met
  • you can’t go inside the home
  • they ask for a deposit via Venmo, Zelle orr gift cards

Dates’ information has been sent to her bank in the chance they can help. But, in most cases, they can’t.

“I’m a smart girl, but this one really got me,” Dates said.

In this tight housing market, be suspicious of any rental that sounds too cheap and you can’t meet the landlord so you don’t waste your money.

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