While there have always been scams, they are becoming more frequent and much harder to detect. With the technology available these days, it can be very difficult to tell the difference between something that’s legitimate and something that is an attempt to steal your money. Thieves have gotten very clever, and it seems there are new scams coming out all the time.
I recently had a friend call me and ask me to check out a rental property he found online. He needed to find a home to rent and had a deadline that didn’t give him much time. He gave me the address of the home and the name of the person he had been dealing with. I started doing some digging and noticed right away that the person he had been dealing with was NOT the owner of the home, which was an immediate red flag. The person he was dealing with told him that if he gave him the first month’s rent in cash, he would be given the keys immediately – another red flag!
I advised my friend to ask the person who the owner of the property was. When asked, the person offering the property for rent claimed that he owned the home. I told him to ask them how long ago he bought the property, as it was possible that it was a recent sale, and the records were not yet showing the transfer from a previous owner. While he was getting answers to his questions, I looked up the home on Zillow and saw that it was listed for rent for $500 more per month than it was being offered to my friend. This was another red flag.
I told my friend to ask them for a copy of the closing statement from the title company showing the details of the supposed sale. When I saw what was sent to him, it was obvious that he was dealing with a scammer – he was sent a one-page form someone had typed, that wasn’t on letterhead from a title company and had typos in the very first sentence!
Fortunately, the situation ended well – my friend took my advice and didn’t fall for the scam. Sadly, many aren’t so lucky. He ended up finding another place and signed a lease yesterday and is now able to meet his deadline. Additionally, we tracked down the actual owner of the home and made him aware that someone was trying to scam people with his home. We provided the contact info of the scammer and the owner said he would be contacting the police, which hopefully will prevent others from being taken advantage of.
This is just one of many examples of how someone can be taken advantage of if they’re not careful. The above YouTube video discusses several other scams to watch out for. If something sounds too good to be true, it almost always is. When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to seek advice from a knowledgeable professional. If you suspect you’re being scammed, you can report it at the following link https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/