Rental Ripoff Pt.1: The red flags when house hunting online
Tue, 06 May 2014 13:57:44 GMT —
COLUMBIA (WACH)-Right now, the internet is filled with scammers ready to take advantage of your dreams of a happy home.
"I can't see the house right away but they'll send me the key?" It sounded odd to Roseanne Kydd who recently moved to Columbia looking to rent a home with the help of Craigslist.
"I found a beautiful house on Polo Road around that area and I sent them an email and he emailed me back, "says Kydd, "you know send me your first name, your last name, your social, your banking information, how much you're willing to pay."
Kydd said to her that was a read flag, "so I emailed him back and said I'd really like to take a look at the house first and then we can talk about whether I'm going to send you all this information because I'm really skeptical about giving someone my name, my social, my banking information why?"
The lister did send the address of the home even though she didn't have the keys to actually look inside.
She decided to take another step that may have saved her from becoming a scam victim.
"I said you know what? Lets ask a neighbor who really owns the property, where are they, how long have they been selling the home," says Kydd, "so we knocked on the neighbors house and she says well it's a Caucasian family of four and I said well he didn't sound anyway Caucasian."
For Roseanne, that was enough to know the listing was a fake and not to send any information and definitely not money.
However, as Mark Watson, a student looking to move closer to campus, found, scammers are getting more creative with their responses to your skepticism.
"We all need to understand that there are many fake people on Craigslist," Watson reads from an email correspondence with a rental scammer, "last time I leased my house, I sent the keys first but the tenant never sent my payment until I called the police to get him out. You can go ahead and view the house through the windows because I am here with the keys"
Not the response a legitimate realtor or owner would give someone looking to view property.
"That was definitely odd," says Watson, "had red flags written all over it."
Much like Roseanne Kydd, Watson decided to go and take a look at the home anyway.
"There's a for sale sign out front, it is vacant, says Watson, "I called the real estate agent, he said that he actually runs into that quite often, its not unusual"
Which means its not unusual for a house rental online that looks too good to be true to be just that.
As for Mark and Roseanne, "I wouldn't say steer clear of Craigslist or any site, I would just say beware," says Watson.
Kydd says, "If you really cant see the property sight seen and you're buying something sight unseen, its like buying a lemon. As a society we should be a little bit more cautious now."