With all the expansion in downtown Cleveland, more people are moving to the city. Real estate is at a premium and that means scammers are out there offering great deals on rentals you could pay for but never get.
"What we are seeing right now are rising prices and people in the market are getting very desperate for housing, especially in the rental market," says realtor Amanda Cox.
Cox says while she mostly deals with sales listings, she does consult with rental properties that would be sold at a later date. She's becoming more aware of the growing number of predators in that market.
"They will ask for rentals and deposits for homes that are not for rent. These are truly homes for sale but they set up a shadow listing on an advertising site asking for deposits," says Cox, who has properties that have fallen into the trap.
Recently, one of her properties was involved in a rental scam.
"She did, she sent the money. She was never allowed in the property. She drove by the property later on and saw that it had my sign in it for sale. She called me in tears," says Cox.
There are several red flags that can alert savvy renters to a potential scam:
- If anyone asks you to wire them money, especially overseas, without viewing the property
- If the "landlord" requests unusual information
- If most of the correspondence is by email or by people who are not local
- They can't refer you to someone in person
"If someone is corresponding with you by email and asking questions, ask questions back to them and put their feet to the fire. Why you're not able to see the property? If there are people in the property right now, why can't I see it," advises Cox.
Remember, this is happening on sites like Craigslist and other reputable real estate pages.
Click here for more information on spotting these scams and how to report them.