By Nicholas Smith, Consumer Protection Officer
Wow! A 4 bed, 3 bath single family home for rent in “THE” place to be… for only $1,000 dollars a month? With no background or credit check? How soon can I move in?
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Rental scammers often use existing online images of properties for sale or rent to create fraudulent listings with deals that seem too good to pass up. The scammers, posing as an agent, landlord, or a friend of the owner, lure prospective tenants into paying a security deposit, application fees, or a few months’ rent before the tenant sees the property in person or receives the keys. Most often, these rental scams are perpetrated entirely online and over the phone. The scammers tend to create a sense of urgency with prospective tenants by offering to send the keys upon receipt of money from the tenants. The victims often don’t realize they have been tricked until they have already paid the scammer. In some cases, multiple people may fall victim to a single fraudulent listing.
Brokers who offer properties for sale or rent online can take steps to help prevent these scams.
If your listing has been used in a rental scam or you believe you have identified a rental scam listing, consider filing a complaint with the Commission on our website (ncrec.gov) if the offender is licensed, and if the offender is not licensed, with the FBI (www.IC3.gov) and with the NC Department of Justice (ncdoj.gov/file-a-complaint/).