Due to a large number of reported complaints from individuals regarding rental scams, the FBI reported to the public on Friday that there is currently a need to be extra cautious when posting (or responding to)  rental advertisements online. We hear a lot regarding rental cons that are posted online that target renters to send money overseas to a potential “landlord,” however few people looking to rent out a property online are aware of the dangers that exist from what might look like a potential renter.

According to the FBI and Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), there are two major cons that a landlord trying to find a potential renter online must keep an eye out for.

First method: If a potential renter contacts you and asks you to accept a check that is written in an excess of the amount required, they’ll most likely be asking for the remainder back. The check you receive in this case could be a fake or bad check, resulting in the bank going after you for the bounced balance.

Second method: In this method, the prospective renter might provide you a check for rental costs in the full exact amount, but then might back out of the agreement and demand a refund. Even if the check clears, banks sometimes don’t catch the mistake until later.

Scam warning from the FBI:

Another type of scam involves real estate that is posted via classified advertisement websites. The scammer duplicates postings from legitimate real estate websites and reposts these ads, after altering them. Often, the scammers use the broker’s real name to create a fake e-mail, which gives the fraud more legitimacy. When the victim sends an e-mail through the classified advertisement website inquiring about the home, they receive a response from someone claiming to be the owner. The “owner” claims he and his wife are currently on missionary work in a foreign country. Therefore, he needs someone to rent their home while they are away. If the victim is interested in renting the home, they are asked to send money to the owner in the foreign country.

Individuals who believe that they are a victim in one of these fraud schemes need to file a complaint at this link: http://www.ic3.gov/

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