San Diego FBI officials are warning the public of two types of scams involving rentals of apartments and houses, specifically properties posted online.
According to the FBI and the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), the scams have been reported by many victims who have advertised their rental properties on the internet.
Officials say one rental scam works like this: the victims post their ad and are contacted by an interested party, who then agrees to a rental price. The scammer forwards a check for the deposit on the rental property to the victim.
The check, which covers housing expenses, is either written in excess of the amount required or in the correct amount.
In the first instance, the scammer asks for the excess to be remitted back. In the latter case, the scammer backs out of the rental agreement and asks for a refund.
Since many banks don’t typically place a hold on the funds, the victim believes the scammer’s check has been cleared. In the end, the check turns out to be counterfeit, and the victim is held responsible by the bank for all losses.
FBI officials say a second housing scam involves real estate posted on classified advertisement websites.
The scammer copies postings from legitimate real estate websites, alters the ads and reposts them. In some cases, officials say the scammers even use a real estate broker’s real name to create a fake email.
The victim, interested in the home, sends an email through the classified advertisement website and they receive a response from the scammer pretending to be the owner. The scammer claims he or she is currently on missionary work in a foreign country and needs someone to rent their home while they’re away.
The victim interested in renting the home is then asked to send money to the “owner” in a foreign country.
The FBI says victims of these popular rental and real estate scams should file a complaint with the IC3. That can be done by visiting this website.