The Department of Real Estate recently issued a warning to California consumers about scammers who try to rent properties that they do not own to people who are looking for rental housing.
The warning is important information for licensed real estate professionals as well because the scammers often use the name of individual real estate licensees or corporations licensed as real estate brokerages when advertising for tenants and when interacting with prospective tenants. They again use the false information when requesting the electronic transfer of fees, deposits and for the payment of rent. BEWARE OF ELECTRONIC TRANSFER PLATFORMS – SOME OFFER VERY LIMITED CONSUMER PROTECTION!
If you are a licensed real estate professional and are contacted by a consumer asking about a rental property – and you have no connection to the property, a scam may be underway. The matter may be reported to local law enforcement.
Scammers have also been known to advertise property for rent when the property is actually up for sale or in escrow and vacant. Licensees can conduct an internet search using the property address to see if a listing or pending sale that they are handling shows up also as a property that is available as a rental.
Corrective measures: If you determine that a property has been compromised by a scammer, hosting sites offer various means to address the false information. For example, Craigslist has more information at: www.craigslist.org/about/scams
How To Report Scams To Other Housing / Rental Websites
- Apartments.com – Does Apartments.com screen listings? How do I report a scam?
- Zillow – How do I report a fraudulent listing or scam to Zillow?
- Redfin – The best way to report a fraudulent listing is to email: firstname.lastname@example.org. More information is found here.