Video: Rental Ripoffs: How You Can Detect Fake Property Scams
STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI)- As the internet and social media continues to grow, so does the threat of online scams. One example is fraudulent listings. Starkville Police tells us someone recently placed an ad on a popular website posing as the owner of an apartment complex.
“These internet scams are becoming more and more prevalent. We had an email generated complaint that came in. And what it referred to was an online listing for an apartment for rent. In this case, the rent was actually lower than the market price, which is a symbol that it may be a scam. Also what they do a lot of times in these scams is they’ll copy a legitimate listing off of a website. Once they copy it, they’ll put a fraudulent price and fraudulent contact information on the fraudulent listing,” said Starkville Detective Kenny Watkins.
The scammer also asked the victim to place a deposit. Authorities say most of the time these scams originate from out of the state and even the country. Lynn Spruill, owner of Spruill Property Management says there are certain things property managers would never ask for on the web.
“We hate to tell people to be suspicious, but be cautious. In our contract, we will have a draft on a monthly basis for your rent, but we are very cautious with that information because it is your bank account and that is as sacred as it gets when it comes to financial transactions,” said Spruill.
Spruill also says before making any decisions, go out and inspect the area.
” You need to see what the location is, if there’s an office, they need to, at least I would suggest they drive by the location that’s being advertised and see what’s there, it’s not a blank lot somewhere, there are not people already living in it. They need to get a telephone number and call the people you need to have a contact person, not just an email. Get as much information as you can. You’re about to sign a contract potentially and send someone some of your hard earned money and you don’t want to do that unless it’s going to a place that’s going to give you a return on your investment. It’s an even deal,” said Spruill.
And if it seems too good to be true, more than likely, it is.
“There are no free deals out there. You’re going to pay for it one way or another so, it needs to be a legitimate arrangement,” said Spruill.
Officials say one warning sign is an email response from the “Bogus Lister” where the address is a long series of consonants. This is a sign you’re dealing with someone using an auto-generated email account, making them harder to trace.
If you ever find a fraudulent listing, report it to local law enforcement or contact the publisher where the advertisement originated.