Rental Scams Hitting Realtors Wallets

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UPDATED: Friday January 17, 2014 10:16 PM

Real estate agents are warning potential property renters about online scams.

They say legitimate homes for sale are somehow falsely ending up in the hands of criminals.

In a typical office, real estate agents pick up the phone in hopes of selling homes. They say 'our time is what we're paid by.'

Real estate agent Cheri Dean says lately she's been getting a different kind of call.

"Continually from agents and from customers who are wanting to rent homes and they will call me and they will say, is this legit?," said Dean.

She says people who are looking to rent homes are seeing ads on sites like Craigslist.

"Lots of them are on the Hilltop, some are in the Grove City area," said Dean.

The problem is that some of the ads are fake. The houses are often vacant and the real homeowners are concerned.

"This is the first time and the first way that I have ever encountered, but it seems to be getting worse," said Dean.

In neighborhoods where homes sell for $200,00 to $300,000 dollars each, real estate agents say they're being falsely rented out online for $700-800 dollars a month. They say that price is too good to be true.

"The rent seemed pretty appealing and I don't have a lot of money," said a rental scam victim to 10TV several weeks ago. "Yeah, that was going to be my place."

He says he wasn't aware of how to check out the property's true owner online, but realtor Cheri Dean says that just may not be enough anymore.

"It's not like these people that are doing this scam are asking for a great deal of money, but they just make it within these people's reach and that's really why the people call me," said Dean.

Agents say it's best to speak directly with the homeowner, if possible. They also say to cross-check their name with what is listed for the property on the county auditor's website. If there's a for-sale sign outside the house, don't hesitate to call the listing agent.

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