A new real estate scam involves real estate that is posted via classified advertisement websites. The scammer duplicates postings from legitimate real estate websites and reposts these ads, after altering them. Often, the scammers use the broker’s real name to create a fake e-mail, which gives the fraud more legitimacy.
When the victim sends an e-mail through the classified advertisement website inquiring about the home, they receive a response from someone claiming to be the owner. The “owner” claims he and his wife are currently on missionary work in a foreign country. Therefore, he needs someone to rent their home while they are away. If the victim is interested in renting the home, they are asked to send money to the owner in the foreign country.
The FBI and the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) want to remind the public to be cautious when posting rental properties and real estate online. The FBI and IC3 have received complaints in the past from individuals who have fallen victim to scams involving rentals of apartments and houses, as well as postings of real estate online. Individuals need to be cautious when posting rental properties and real estate online.
Rental scams occur when the victim has rental property advertised and is contacted by an interested party. Once the rental price is agreed upon, the scammer forwards a check for the deposit on the rental property to the victim. The check is to cover housing expenses and is either written in excess of the amount required, with the scammer asking for the remainder to be remitted back, or written for the correct amount, but the scammer backs out of the rental agreement and asks for a refund. Since the banks do not usually place a hold on the funds, the victim has immediate access to them and believes the check has cleared. In the end, the check is found to be counterfeit, and the victim is held responsible by the bank for all losses.
If you have been a victim of Internet crime, please file a complaint at http://www.ic3.gov/.