March 9, 2017
***National Consumer Protection Week Consumer Alert***
Carson City, NV – Today, Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt warns Nevadans of rental listing scams that have become especially prevalent in southern Nevada. While many landlords are simply looking to rent their property, scam artists can also use false Internet listings to convince renters to wire them money or to rent out foreclosed properties.
Scammers looking to earn money quickly may post rental listings online offering low rental prices. These scammers are often located overseas, and may ask potential renters to send money upfront via wire transfer or reloadable cards to hold the property or to pay for the security deposit. In some cases, the scammer may even ask potential renters to fill out a rental application to gain access to personal and financial information. In the end, the scammer posing as the landlord or property manager never provides keys to the property, and disappears with the victim’s money and personal information.
Other scam artists may live in the same city or state as the property they are renting. These scammers locate foreclosed or vacant properties and attempt to rent them purporting to be the home’s landlord or property manager. Some scam artists may even take on the identity of a legitimate real estate agent, and may break into the agent’s key box to rent the property and collect rental fees. They may also break into vacant, foreclosed homes in order to make a new set of keys. Unsuspecting renters often do not become aware that they have been scammed until they are contacted by the lien holder of the property and asked to relocate.
“Nevadans should exercise caution when responding to Internet listings for rental properties,” said Laxalt. “While these offers may look appealing, I encourage Nevadans to always remember that if it looks and sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I encourage those looking to rent properties to always conduct research and to educate themselves on the red flags associated with rental scams.”
Rental listing scams can be difficult to recognize. Our office offers the following red flags that may be used when reviewing rental listings:
- The listed rental offers an unbelievably low rental price. Scam artists often list rentals as unrealistically low in order to attract as many potential renters as possible.
- The landlord or property manager urges you to act quickly. Scam artists often attempt to create a false sense of urgency in order to get prospective renters to send them money without first conducting research.
- The landlord or property manager asks you to send money via a wire transfer or reloadable card. Sending money through these means are virtually untraceable and unrecoverable.
The Office of the Nevada Attorney General encourages Nevadans looking to respond to rental listings make use of the following tips to avoid falling victim to these scams:
- Always conduct an internet search of the landlord or property manager’s name, as well as the listing. If you find the propertied listed for sale on another website, or the lessor’s name or phone number associated with several other listings, this may be a sign of a scam.
- Visit the local assessor’s website to verify who owns the property you are looking to rent.
- Avoid renting from those who will not meet with you in person. If the listed landlord or property manager has a photograph, ensure that the image matches the identity of the person you are renting the property from.
If you believe you have been a victim of a rental scam, please contact your local law enforcement agency to complete a police report. Home Again: Nevada Homeowner Relief Program may also be able to assist you by calling 1-885-457-4638. You may also contact the Federal Trade Commission for more details and assistance.