Anyone can be attacked by the rental property scammer, even the professionals.  Recently, Fraud Dog’s team was personally attacked; our team quickly investigated  and ended this fraud.  Due diligence is key to stopping the fraudster in their tracks, says Linda Webb, fraud expert, aka the FRAUD DOG.

Before surrendering your hard earned cash, prospective renters should check multiple websites like realtor.com and Zillow.com. Verify the property owner’s and check for a notice of default on the address at the county recorder’s office. Ask the landlord for identification, if they say they are the owner’s appointed representative as for proof. Con artists tend to balk at such due diligence.  They do not want to be identified.

Zillow acts only as a source of information , it is just a listing service.  It is not involved in any transactions in between buyers and sellers, renters and landlords, or borrowers and lenders.  They do not handle any money transactions. Any such offers are fraudulent activity.

With identity theft on the rise, it is a good general rule to provide your personal/financial information sparingly, and only to trusted sources.

Scammers will usually post rental ads on a large free classified site and make their rental price extremely low.  Often the photos in the ad are not even of the property offered.  They use photos stolen from other property advertisements or from home furnishing catalogues or hotel websites.  They use fake names, often stolen from Facebook profiles or networking sites. Some seasoned thefts will assume the identities of their previous victims!

When dealing with rental emails, be wary of the owner being out of the county on business.  There are many thieves based in Nigeria and the U.K., away from local prosecution, trying to steal you money and identify.  If the emails are filled with misspellings, excessive capitalization,  grammatical mistakes or reference God, Doctors or extreme hardships, it is best to not reply. What they all have in common is that sooner or later you get a request to transfer funds via Western Union, MoneyGram or some other wire service.  Most scams eventually involve such a request, and there are many variations. A scammer may have convincing reasons why they need to deal remotely. They may wire overpayment of funds to you and request that you wire back a refund. They may ask you to use a false online “escrow service”. Do not wire funds to anyone you haven’t met personally. Also, do not accept wire funds that you did not initiate.

If you feel you have been defrauded in a rental scam, do not hide your head in shame.  File a complaint with your state’s attorney general’s office. The only way to stop these scammers  is to do your due diligence and to report it.   Be sure if you identify fraud, to report it, and contact us at 855-FRAUD DOG.  Contego Services Group has the knowledge and expertise to help you resolve your fraud case. Whether it’s mortgage fraud, insurance fraud, workers compensation fraud or any other type of fraudulent activity, Contego and The Fraud Dog will work together to help you and your company. For more information, call 1-855-WE-SWARM today.

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