This rental scam has been going on for several years now, but it has been brought to my attention by several prospective tenants in recent weeks so it is worth covering again.  Dishonest people from overseas, mainly in African countries, are listing properties for rent on Craigslist and some other rental websites.  The rental amounts are usually far below the going rate and renters in our area and across the country are falling for this scam hook, line and sinker.  Our area is especially prone to this scam, since a lot of folks are coming in from out of town and many are willing to rent sight unseen from the pictures. 

The way the scam works is the thieves use actual properties for rent and create new online ads for the same house with more favorable terms.  Like a beautiful Virginia Beach rental home with 4 bedrooms for $1,800 a month, $1,800 security deposit and the owner will not accept pets.  The new scam ad runs for the same house will say something like the rent is $1,250, no security deposit required and pets are OK.  Sounds like a great deal aye!

Unsuspecting renters are basically duped into sending rent and security deposit by Western Union, but the person on the receiving end are not the actual owners.  Local area real estate companies have even had renters show up and ask for the keys, just to find out they were victims of a scam and their money is gone forever and now they have no home either. 

Basic Rules for Renting:

1. Any reputable Property Manager will require an application and application fee to verify who you are before renting to you.

2. Verify the Property Manager and the house are really for rent before sending in your money.  If it offer is too good to be true, it probably is.  So beware of incredible offers to rent cheap. 

​3. Google the full address of the house including the city and state too.  You should be able to find any Realtor listings for the same house. 

4. Many agents use a cell phone number, but ask for the office phone number to double check.  Call the office and asked to be transferred to the agent. 

5.  If you live out of town, ask a friend or co-worker to take a look at the house and meet with the agent to actually look inside the house.

​6. Mostly importantly never ever send your hard earned money by Western Union or any other service overseas to rent a home.  There are plenty of great local rentals in our area to deal with.