The Carteret County Sheriff’s Office is warning the public about a rental property scam where at least 3 local victims sent money to thieves, thinking they were making a deposit on rental property, only to be scammed.
How does it work?
Scammers find local ads and photos for legitimate rental properties and then convert the advertisement into their own. They then post the new advertisement on popular online rental websites with an alternate method of contact. Unsuspecting victims searching for rental properties then reach out to the scammer who convinces them to fill out an electronic application, which solicits various items of your personal information. The scammer then provides the victim with a bank account number for the first deposit to be made online. The victim obviously never receives any further correspondence, let alone the key.
The Sheriff’s Office warns when you have an interest in rental property call the phone number associated with the property and make arrangements to meet the owner or rental company in person at their local office or the rental unit. Detectives suggest dealing with a local person or rental company will reduce your risk of being scammed. Never wire money or mail bank checks to anyone unless you have personally met the individual. Never give out your bank account information or wire money to people you don’t know. Most rental companies will accept a local personal check or bank check for deposits and rental payments. Local rental agencies say a big red flag is when you cannot personally meet up with the advertiser at the property beforehand. Another suggestion is to check local rental company websites for actual rentals in your area. Advertisements with low rate is also a dead giveaway. If a house normally rents for around $1000.00 and they are advertising $700.00, it’s probably too good to be true.
Experts say to watch out for these red flags:
– A company email when it’s an individual renting the home
– The scammer provides copy of their passport and the deed to prove legitimacy
– The tenant is instructed to make a security deposit at the bank