A new real estate scam is targeting would-be tenants and their hard-earned cash.
It surprised even an experienced realtor, and nearly cost a young couple big.
Brian Barker and Jaime DeBois spent Wednesday night packing up their Grandview apartment, preparing for a move to the Short North.
"It was a big weight off our shoulders to finally find a place," says Barker.
Especially after the bullet they dodged during their search. While apartment shopping online, they thought they'd found a perfect place in an Italian Village rental on 2nd street. So they responded to the ad.
"We started to correspond," Barker says, "and the emails were a little strange, so I just decided to drive past the house one day. And I saw that it had the 'for sale' sign, so I decided to give the realtor a call."
Terry Penrod was that realtor. "I got a couple of phone calls asking me if the unit was for sale or for rent. And I said 'no, this unit is definitely for sale.' And they said, 'well, it's on the internet for rent,' which raised my eyebrows very quickly."
Penrod says someone swiped his online listing, even using the photo he'd posted.
But they listed it for rent, at a too-good-to-be-true price.
"For $800 a month, this would be a huge buy," says Penrod. "Someone's scamming the system and trying to get people to send in an application fee or first month's rent."
"And that's how we kind of obviously found out that whoever I was corresponding with wasn't the owner," says Barker.
Penrod says in 20 years in real estate, he's seen a lot of scams, but this is a new one.
Brian and Jaime happily didn't fall victim, but fear someone else might.
"I always thought I was doing pretty good due diligence in weeding out the scams versus what's actually real," says Barker, "but it shows you that even on a legitimate website where there are legitimate people on there posting houses for sale, people can sneak these things in."
Penrod contacted police, but says he was told since money didn't actually change hands, there wasn't much they could do.
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