Looking for a new rental home? Scammers have the perfect deal for you in the Orlando area. Today’s real estate scammers have gotten pretty darn good at making you believe their authenticity. Protect yourself from losing money by reading this important PSA on how tenants can spot sneaky rental property scammers.
How The Scam Works
A scammer can work in a couple of different ways. Below we list two common scenarios, but keep in mind scammers will always find new ways to con people. Most scammers are located out of the country, but have a local runner to show properties and collect funds.
Scenario 1: Real House, Fake Owner
The first scenario involves scammers finding a legit rental property and relisting it with a different price and contact information. They know the market price for a rental in a specific location and list a cost far, far lower.
An unsuspecting tenant finds the listing and calls the scammer number. They have a middle man who manages to gain access to the rental for showings.
The scammer claims they’re the owner and sends the person an application. WARNING: you’ve now given over your private information for reselling on the dark web.
The scammer will then ask the applicant to send their security deposit via an unconventional method (like cash app).
The tenant moves into the rental thinking they scored a great deal on a sweet space. The real owner finds out and then the tenant needs to move out… and loses the money they gave the scammer.
No surprise, the scammer is impossible to locate now.
Scenario 2: Fake Property, Fake Owner
In places like central Florida where new housing developments are continually expanding, a scammer can also play a totally different game.
In this scenario, they don’t even need a real place to rip people off. They post renderings or fake photos of a rental home that doesn’t exist and again post their listing online.
Interested tenants see a great deal on a fabricated rental property and call the contact number. Here the scammer has an excuse why they can’t show the listed property – either they’re out of town or the build isn’t finished yet.
Their goal is to pressure someone into thinking they’ll lose this deal on a great spot if they don’t act RIGHT NOW. For those to fall for it, expect a similar fake application, lost funds, and info sold on the dark web.
Ways to Identify a Scam Yourself
Anyone looking for a new rental property can protect themselves by looking out for the following red flags:
- Listing on Facebook or Craigslist
These are all great places to find home goods. They’re NOT a great place to find rental homes. Why? Because a large portion of listings on these sites are fraudulent. To protect yourself, always cross reference a listing on reputable rental sites.
Note: scammers will probably also post on other rental sites like Zillow, Realtor, Zumper, or Apartments. Usually, listings on these rental sites get taken down pretty quickly, but you could stumble upon them before they get removed.
- Their price is WAY under market value
If every other place you find in an area is nearly twice as much as the suspect listing, it’s a scam. The “owner” may claim they’re posting the property themselves because they’re firing their property manager. They’ll say it’s cheaper for you if they don’t pay PM company fees. Don’t believe it.
If you come across this, call the property management company to verify. You’ll likely learn the listing is fake.
- A Google search finds different information
A simple search of the address on Google will turn up different owner information or even images of a totally different home. If you google the contact information and can’t find them, their name doesn’t match the email address, or they’ve listed a prepaid phone, run. Seriously, just run.
Above all else, if something seems too good to be true… it probably is.
If you do find a fake listing, report it to the listed property management company and the Federal Trade Commission.
How The Realty Medics Protects Its Clients
The Realty Medics takes extra steps to protect our tenants from these scams.
Burner Phone Sweeps
Scammers will always use prepaid burner phones. To combat this, The Realty Medics conducts daily checks on phone numbers that call on numerous properties trying to get showings. We blackball those phone numbers.
Electronic Lock Boxes
The Realty Medics use credit card authorization to gain access to properties or require government issued IDs at showings. We use electronic lock boxes (ELBs) that won’t allow unauthorized individuals to open them.
GeoFencing Access Only
We’ll also turn on GPS geofencing where the individual has to physically be at the property to gain access to a lockbox. This way a scammer cannot call from abroad claiming to be an agent and get access codes they can use willy-nilly.
The Bottom Line
It takes a rocket scientist to outwit a scammer (good thing our founder is a former NASA scientist). The Realty Medics has an entire team dedicated to sniffing out scammers and stopping them from using our rental properties for their misdeeds.
If you have questions about the legitimacy of a rental listing, even if it’s not one of ours, call us at 321-947-7653 or use our contact form. We’re happy to help debunk any bunk listings. We don’t want anyone to lose money to these fraudsters.