Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office warns of rental property scams

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla.- The housing market is booming, and rental properties are in high demand. Scammers are taking advantage, and hoping to cash in on your rent.

Based on a recent survey over 43{df062b8f362fea3ad554c6c90c50e0dac4ff01de4668794de908559e9684c452} of online shoppers looking for a rental property online are going to be subject to this type of scam,” Bryan Oglesby reports, from the Better Business Bureau. “This is a high dollar scam.”

BBB reports 85{df062b8f362fea3ad554c6c90c50e0dac4ff01de4668794de908559e9684c452} don’t fall for the scam. But one in three victims who do fall prey lose more than $1,000. Scammers tend to be online.

“Scammers can actually take advantage of consumers on any site. The most common ones are Craigslist and Facebook marketplace where they don’t have strict parameters in place,” Oglesby said.

“Sometimes they actually just hijack an existing ad and put their email address. sometimes they’re creating a false property that doesn’t even exist to draw interest,” Claudette Smith said, from the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.

Smith said every con artist has one thing in common.

“Every single time they’re trying to get you to send money without signing a contract, without viewing the properties so they can get the money and go,” Smith said.

Officials suggest never to wire money. If it sounds too good to be true – it probably is.

“So it’s important to be aware of this and not give up any money until you verify this is a legitimate property that is available to you,” Oglesby said.

“Meet the person, sign the contract, have keys in your hand, be able to view that property before giving any money away,” Smith added.

Another tip: reverse search pictures posted online to see if they match other listings. Mis-match information could warn you about a scam.

You can always report suspicious activity to local law enforcement and the Federal Trade Commission.

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