Real Estate scams have been going on for years and I have heard some of them from realtors as well as from landlords.
The Empty Home for Rent
This one takes advantage of both renter and owner. So the owner is away for an extended time, or even the owner has put the property up for rent through a realtor. The con artist will gain access to the property by leaving a door or window locked while viewing the property. If the property is vacant the con artist will break in. Once the con artist has access to the property he/she will rent the property having the tenant sign a standard lease contract. The locks are changed the key are given to the tenant and con artist skips out. Once someone has occupied the property the owner will have to evict the tenant that is occupying the property.
The Deposit Collector
This one is not very common but has happened. Someone who has access to a vacant property will show the property to multiple potential tenants. The con artist will take deposits from multiple tenants or moneys for background checks. Once the con artist has collected several deposits they will disappear.
The Foreclosure Rental
This one is similar to the others but this one may involves the owner who is aware that the property is going into foreclosure. The owner is not paying the mortgage however the owner is collecting rent from the tenant or the owner will put the tenant into the property and take off with the first last and security.
The Foreclosure Sale
This one is similar to the foreclosure rental. After gaining access to the property the con artist poses as a real estate agent and offers the property at a bargain price. The con artist will collect one or several deposits and have the interested party(s) sign a purchase offer. Once the deposits are cashed the con artist will disappear.
The Out of Town Renter
This scam rents a property that is unavailable to someone out of town looking for a temporary rental while on vacation or work in the remote location. The con artist will list the property and the potential renters will be asked to wire money to cover the security deposit or rent.
How to Protect Yourself
Remember the golden rule if it sounds to good to be true it probably is. Ask questions, do your due diligence. It is usually better to work with a legitimate real estate agent. Avoid cash deposits or wiring money, instead write a check or use a credit card, since it is easier to trace.
If you have been taken in by a scam contact the