Scammers copy and paste legitimate listings, and then after getting inquiries and questions, try to get victims to wire them the deposit. (Source: CBS 5 News)
Theresa Cherry sais she was targeted by one of the scammers and knew it when she went to look at a house and it was already occupied. (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -
There is a new twist to an old rental scam, and it could be very dangerous.
"Rentals are very hot right now," said Dorene Longfellow, a realtor who had her listing hijacked.
She says the scammers copy and paste legitimate listings, and then after getting inquiries and questions, try to get victims to wire them the deposit.
"They're marketing it for up to $500 less (than the original listing amount)," said Longfellow.
In one instance, a scammer even suggested an interested renter drive to the property and view it herself.
"He said, 'Oh, if you want to go look at it, there is nobody living there,'" recalled Theresa Cherry, who was targeted by one of the scammers.
But when Cherry visited the home it was occupied.
"He was home," said tenant Lisa Viera, referring to her boyfriend.
"He was in the bedroom and he heard some noise outside. He looks through the window and there are some ladies out there.(They're) looking through our window. (They're) peeking through it," she continued.
"You hear someone outside. You're going to shoot them, and you're going to call the police," she continued, glad she wasn't the one home alone.
In Cherry's case, she realized something was not right after the home visit. She then refused to send the scammer a money order.
Longfellow said it's best to look out for dramatic changes in listing prices. She also says it's helpful to check the county assessor's office to make sure the person you're talking to is the current owner of the property.
"And don't ever enter a property without an agent or a landlord," she said.
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