Rental Scams Target Local Real Estate

The Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department Detective Division is alerting the public in light of recent incidents that they have been investigating.

Internet scammers are posting listings on Internet based classified ad websites such as Craig’s List posting they have a home for rent in the Kosciusko County area. The scammer provides contact information to a response to the ad in the form of an e-mail address or phone number but asks for texts only.

The scammer then tells a story to a potential victim about some hardship or circumstance and they must rent their home quickly and cheaply because of this hardship. The fraudulent ads will look legitimate on the surface and include pictures and detailed descriptions of the home. These fraudulently listed homes are not owned by the scammer and the scammer had no legitimate ability to rent the home.

The scammer attempts to have the victim send money for a rent deposit and first month’s rent through a cash transfer service such as MoneyGram or purchase and send the scammer a prepaid credit card through a service such as green dot. In return for the “deposit” or “first month’s rent” the scammer will send the potential victim a package allowing them access to the home and a request for an additional month worth of rent to complete the rental agreements.

Consumers should be very cautious when renting a home that they cannot inspect prior to placing a deposit or inspect prior to sending money for a deposit.

Consumers should never send cash, wire money, or send pre-paid credit cards to persons they do not know or trust.  Money transferred this way cannot be recovered or returned to the sender, especially when it leaves the country.

The homes victimized in these scams are selected by the scammer after finding them in legitimate real estate listings or public government records on the Internet. Frequently the scammer will establish an e-mail address through a free e-mail service such as Yahoo or G-mail and make the e-mail address appear legitimate by using all or some of the true owners name in the e-mail address.



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