Beware of "house for rent" online scams It is important for our Clients and the public in general to be aware of a scam which has been going on for a few years now. Scammers are lifting information and photos from real estate web sites such as Realtor.com and posting the homes on Craigslist as rentals. Some scammers pose as the owners of the property, or in some cases even pose as the listing Brokers. If they are posing as the owner they may tell a prospective renter they have moved out of the house and do not have a key so they can not show the inside of the home, instead inviting the potential renter to drive by. They may say the listing firm has not yet removed their sign from the yard so don't call the listing Brokers. In some cases they say they are currently in Africa or another country. Scammers posing as the Broker representing a property or property owner will set up an email address containing the legitimate persons name or some form of it to use in correspondence with a prospect (i.e. Marysmithbroker@gmail.com or Johndoeowner@yahoo.com). The scammer then asks the prospective renter to wire a deposit to them overseas or elsewhere, and claims once received keys will be mailed. The listing Agent and Seller have no idea the house is listed for rent. It is important for consumers to be aware of this scam and be on the watch for any indication that something isn't right with a rental listing.
Caution and Call to Action: If you are a Seller...never allow anyone into your home without an appointment and/or without the presence of a licensed realtor. Report any suspicious activity or any people who appear to be looking in windows. In most cases the homes are vacant. Report anyone contacting you regarding your home being for rent if it is not.
If you are a prospective Renter...never mail or wire money to anyone without having been in the house and without having executed a valid contract. Be sure to report any suspicious activity to your agent immediately. Reports can also be made to local police and governmental authorities. You should report knowledge of such scams to www.ncdoj.gov/ or Governor Roy Cooper's Office-Financial consumer Protection Division 1-877-5NO-SCAM (877-556-7226)