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DWYM: Watch out for 'too good to be true' rental offers

DWYM: Beware "too good to be true" rental offers
Posted at 10:20 AM, Aug 30, 2021

If you see a rental deal that seems impossibly cheap. it probably is.

Especially in this hot housing market.

Consumer reporter John Matarese warns about this home and apartment rental scam so you don't waste your money.

With homes and apartments so tough to find this year, many renters are desperate to find anything.

That's how one woman ended falling victim to the rental scam.

Mariah Dates had no luck finding a rental home, until this cute two-bedroom house popped up on a Facebook marketplace for just $700 a month.

"I emailed the realtor, and she emailed me back, with pictures of the house and everything," Dates said.

Thrilled, Dove drove by the house.

"It's a real house? Yes. You went and looked at it? Yes. You can go see it."

So she immediately filled out an application and sent a deposit and two months' rent via the Zelle app.

"I ended up sending the money for the deposit and the rent, but never got the keys," she said.

No keys, and no response from the landlord ever again.

Turns out the listing was fake.

The photos were real, but were stolen from a recent "for sale " listing of the home.

It was never for rent.

The so- called realtor ended up being a hacked Facebook page.

Dates said she ended up losing $2,145 on the bogus rental listing.

The rental scam is becoming so common this year because of the red-hot housing market.

With home prices so high, more people are trying to rent homes. It makes them easy prey for scammers.

So don't let this happen to you.

The FTC says to be suspicious of rental listings if:

  • The landlord wants a deposit before you have met.
  • You can't go inside the home.
  • They ask for a deposit via Venmo, Zelle, or gift cards.

We've sent Mariah's information to her bank, in the chance they can help.

In most cases they can't.

"I'm a smart girl, but this one really got me," she said.

In this tight housing market, be suspicious of any rental that sounds too cheap - or you can't meet the landlord - So you don't waste your money.