Renter beware: Here's how crooks steal your deposit

Published: May. 11, 2020 at 6:45 PM CDT
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This is already a common time of year to search for an apartment, duplex or a home to rent and many people are hoping to find a great

deal. Especially if they're out of work or furloughed due to the coronavirus. Crooks know that and will try to steal your deposit.

Crooks take legit 'for rent' or 'for sale' listings. They copy the photos and descriptions.Then make a bogus listing on websites like Craigslist and Facebook. Swindlers make the price significantly lower. So you think you found a deal. They're betting you inquire and send in your deposit all before you realize the entire thing is a scam.

On Your Side has covered this dirty trick for years, but folks in the business say it's worse now.

"Everyone is in a rough situation and they're just trying to find a home that fits within their budget right now which is a little more limited than it would be. The first thing we do before we ever ask for a deposit is we send you a link to apply online. We want to make sure you qualify to live in that home and you're approved to live in that home before we take any sort of a deposit," said Jamie Thomas with Prosperiti Properties.

Realtors deal with this scam too. Crooks will take their legit 'for sale' listings, steal photos and descriptions and make a bogus rental ad.

"I've had it happen numerous times and I cite a couple of things … photography is one of them … those photos are owned by me. That's plagiarism to take my photos. Do not do anything on a house that you've never seen. If the person doesn't have the ability to show you the house, the house is not available," said Whitney Shoffner with Southwest Missouri Realty.

Shoffner says never hesitate to call the name you see on the sign.

Your county assessor is a great resource too for property records.

Never send money until you've been inside and viewed the property.