Fake Landlords Renting
Imagine losing your home to foreclosure and then having
criminals steal the deposit money you paid to rent a new home.
This is the situation several California homeowners faced this
week and one that many families could face nationwide. Itís a
new twist on an old scam that is being facilitated by today's
Last week California district attorneys in Solano and Alameda
counties reported several calls to their offices from people who
had been taken by scammers pretending to be property owners or
bank representatives with homes to rent. Con artists are taking
over empty homes, advertising them for rent and then running off
with the deposit. All the scammers need is an unoccupied home
and a family that is desperate to replace a
home lost to foreclosure. Even educated realtors can become
victims of this crime.
Find foreclosures in your area
realtor who has witnessed the fake landlord scheme
firsthand is Brian McPherson. Not long after he emptied a
Vallejo county foreclosure and put the home on the market for
the lender, McPherson drove by the newly listed property. He
found that for-sale signs he had placed there earlier were
missing, the lights were on, and the locks changed. McPherson
called the local electric company to learn the account had been
transferred from his company name to a private party, according
to a report by KTVU.com. The family living in the home said they
had leased the property from a company called ďBig Sky.Ē
This isnít the first time McPherson, owner of Tipp Realty, has
witnessed the scam.
"I saw it back in the 1970s when there were a lot of
foreclosures," said McPherson to the Contra Costa Times. "It
works best when there are a lot of abandoned,
bank-owned properties that Realtors can't keep an eye on."
McPherson said scammers usually entice renters with low rates,
and advertise the properties in online classified ads on sites
like Craigslist or in the local newspaper. Then they draw up a
fake lease and ask for a cash deposit.
Last week Police in Carlsbad Cal. arrested two men advertising a
home for rent on Craigslist they didn't own. The men allegedly
collected thousands of dollars in security deposits and rent
before being arrested.