(WHTM) — Spring is a rental season when millions of Americans look for new places to live. But, with rents high and rental homes hard to find, scammers are lurking everywhere this year.
Brandon Smith and Shelby Moore found the perfect rental home for $1,000 a month. They even shot videos of their first walkthrough inside.
But, as they were moving in, they say a man stopped by to inform them it was not their house, even though they had signed a contract, got the front door code and Venmo’d a $1,000 deposit.
They had fallen for a rental scam.
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The same thing happened to Mariah Dates, who found a cute two-bedroom house on Facebook Marketplace for just $700 a month.
“It sounded realistic at the time because we were just so excited about it.” Dates said. “I emailed the realtor, and she emailed me back, with pictures of the house and everything.”
Thrilled, Dates drove by the house and she immediately filled out an application and sent a deposit, plus two months’ rent via the Zelle app.
“I never got the keys,” Dates said.
This is happening more and more these days because the scam keeps getting more sophisticated. Scammers find a home for sale and copy all the photos, they pretend to be potential buyers and get the front door code from the real estate agent.
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The FTC says to be suspicious of rental listings if:
- The landlord wants a deposit before you left
- You can not go inside the home
- They ask for a deposit by way of Venmo, Zelle, or gift cards
Brandon and Shelby meantime now have set up a Gofundme page, hoping to recover some of the money they lost to what they thought was their dream home.
In the end, if the price seems very low and you cannot meet the landlord in person, it may be a scam, so don’t waste your money.