Scammers targeting renters in online advertising

Published: Sunday, July 15 2012 4:47 p.m. MDT

The Utah divisions of Consumer Protection and Real Estate have received complaints from real estate sales agents, potential renters and property managers about this scam taking place on classified websites in Utah. Some of the common elements found in these fake rental ads were:

• Poorly written ads ... as if someone used a translation program to generate the language in the ad.

• The property could not be inspected or shown in person because the “landlord” in charge of renting the property claims to be in another state or country for work or is serving a mission.

• The telephone numbers listed in the ads or emails are for out of state numbers, or are international numbers. Also, the names used in the ads have used prior property owners as the contact person.

• The person claiming to have authority to rent the property requests a deposit via wire transfer.

“Consumers should carefully consider any rental property situation before handing over information or money, whether as a landlord or as a renter,” said Deanna Devey, communications director for the Utah Association of Realtors.

“Be on your guard for situations that seem too good to be true like a low deposit or rent as well as for situations where a landlord wants money wired without showing you the house."

The Division of Consumer Protection suggested that consumers avoid sending any money unless the recipient is a trusted and known source. The public is also is reminded to never give out personal account information, social security numbers or other identifying information to unknown sources.

Visit www.consumerprotection.utah.gov for more information.

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Info Box

Below is the actual listing for the property the Lynnea Hamatake found online.

Hi,

Thanks for mailing me regarding the house are still available, but now I'm on a business trip to West Africa. I run a small construction company and I won a contract here and which is going long before we finished. I came over here with my wife and we decided to stay here for few years because we like it here and its warm, We wanted to sell the house my wife advised me not to sell the house. So I contacted the realty handling the house back and requested for my keys and papers. We would have given the same agent this job, but want to rent the house out ourselves and I do not have anyone in the area I can leave the keys behind with. If you notice the price we are offering is far below normal price and I this is enough for you to know that we are not after the rental fee but the entire care for the property. I know there is no way we can be sure that you are the right person to live in the house because we would not be able to meet physically before sending you the keys and the documents to occupy the property. The property is available for as long as you want and if you drive by the house you may see a sign there, you have nothing to worry about it belongs to my former realty so you don't have to call them because they do not have access to the house anymore.

 Air Conditioner Dishwasher  Walk-in Closet Refrigerator  Vaulted Ceilings Washer/Dryer Cable etc.

Please if you are ready now to occupy the house kindly provide the information below for record purpose

PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF

Full Name__________________________________________________ Home Phone ( ) ________________________

Date of Birth_________________________________

Other Phone ( ) ___________________

Current Address_______________________________Apt#________ City__________________ State______ Zip________

Reasons for Leaving____________________________Rent $__________Phone ( ) ____________________________

Are you married____________________________

How many people will be living in the house____________________________

Do you have a pet____________________________

Do you have a car____________________________

Occupation____________________________

Move In Date____________________________

P.S: YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO VIEW THE INTERIOR PART OF THE HOUSE BECAUSE I HAVE THE KEYS HERE WITH ME BUT I CAN SEND YOU PICTURES.

E-mail: jlee@desnews.com

Twitter: JasenLee1

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