Scams, even in Bryan & College Station, are unfortunately becoming more prevalent and more and more individuals are finding themselves victims to all types of fraud, especially due to the internet. What feels like a completely safe and isolated environment actually serves as a means for deception all too often. This deception ofen reaches out to include real estate leasing.
All over the nation, tenants are losing money from sending their rent or down payments to someone who has posted an ad for a house for lease on Craigslist or some other online site. Many times the scammer will copy the photo and text from a site like Realtor.com, post it on Craigslist and pretend they are the owner.
There are sometimes clues that will tip you off in a document, email or advertisement signaling that the renter is not from a reputable source. Excessive capitalization, references like the USA, UK, spelling mistakes and references to other agencies or people are good hints that it is a scam.
Most scammers are citizens of Nigeria, the UK, or the US. These individuals make a living, and may even become multi-millionaires off of scamming uninformed individuals. Some of the scammers are young teenagers, skipping class to sit on a computer all day stealing money and identities.
Another fact to be aware of is that these scammers will try to make the victim feel as comfortable as possible. They may list the price as extremely cheap, or tell the victim they are out of the country on business. The scammer also may ask the victim to wire a certain amount of money to one of the victim’s friends, claiming this is only to ensure that the victim has funds. The scammer then asks to view the receipt of the transfer, and with the information on the receipt alone, the scammer is able to gather the funds from anywhere in the world.
A good clue is that the offer seems too good to be true. This is actually part of the technique. If the scammer can ‘make you an offer you can’t refuse,’ then he has done his job. Some scams even include outrageous amenities like daily champagne and fresh fruit brought to you upon request, fluent and multi-lingual greeters, a free Mac book, and a personal spa. When a person makes such extravagant offers such as these, it is usually a good sign that he or she is not trying to rent you a house, but steal your money and identity.
Fraud is increasing daily on Craigslist, as scammers change their alias but not their tactics. The fraud doesn’t stop at the fake name however. Fake websites, networking sites, Facebook profiles, and fake photos and advertisements all go into their planning. Often, real identities stolen from previous victims are used as the scammer’s new fake identity. This only increases the risk of the victim. Not only is their money at risk, but so is their identity.
Scammers have many different tactics and devices that they use to deceive their victim into handing them money. Many of their strategies are known, yet many also remain unknown. The only way to undoubtedly ensure your safety when renting is to work through a well known source.
This is why it is becoming increasingly more important to work with reputable Realtors and agencies to find legitimate housing options and to avoid losing hundreds or thousands of dollars on scams. The risk of a scam and of identity theft is not worth taking the chance.
A Realtor would have inside information on the surrounding neighborhood and will know what the community has to offer. Going through a reputable agency (like Century 21 Beal of course) would not only ensure you this firsthand information and safety, but would also give you the guidance you need to find a rental or home option that not only fits your personality and needs but also your budget.
Let me know when I can help by checking to make SURE the property you want to lease is REALLY for lease!