I recently listed an adorable vacant home in North Portland. This property was a rental property and owned by my clients for several years.
We had been on the market about 5 days, when I got a call from a woman asking how much the rent for the house was. I assumed that she misread the meaning of my sign out front and explained to her that the home was for sale and not for rent. She then politely said “no thanks” and hung up.
The next day I got another call asking how much the rent was. I tried to explain that all my advertisements were about selling the home and not renting it. This person pointed out to me the URL of the rental properties website. I looked it up and sure enough, someone had copied all my marketing pictures and my descriptive dialogue to create a fake rental ad. Sheesh!
I actually had heard this scam was occurring to vacant home listings elsewhere in the Universe, but I really didn’t think it would happen to me….because, you know….I’m a nice guy, right?
That said, this is just one of the numerous tactics that thieves are using to bilk money out of innocent renters. They trick people into believing that they own the home and convince these folks to send deposits and rents to them before crawling back into the black digital ooze that they reside in.
Needless to say, I reported the scam to the website operators. In the future, I am going to have a sign such as the one below inside a front window facing out of all my vacant home listings:
If you would like to read more about this activity, here is a good article on Scambusters.org http://www.scambusters.org/rentalscam.html
As usual, just when I think I have experienced it all, something from left field comes flying at me. Recently one of my homes in escrow had a major fire and the whole top of the house needs to be rebuilt before closing! Maybe I’ll tell you about that next time?
Until then my friend ~