At Remax North Orange County we have been noticing an increase in rental scams over the last few months.  This would involve someone stealing our Craig’s List Lease Ads and reposting them with an altered lease amount.  Basically it is our exact ad with the exception of the price, a much lower price.  In our case the scammers have also used the broker’s name and set up a fake e-mail address for the victim to reply to. This came to our attention when several people were calling in regards to one of our ads that was offering quite a deal for the Lease.  After rechecking our ad we noticed that it was posted twice, once with the actual amount of the lease and once with a much lower amount.  We also noticed that the ad was changed every day, sometimes with a different amount.

As a lot of you know, this scam has been going on for several years and it seems to come and go in waves. It really hasn’t changed much over the years. The scammer, claiming to be the property owner, usually represents himself as a missionary working overseas.  He really needs to rent the property while he is out of the country and may actually ask for a two or even a five year lease.  Once the scammer has you hooked with the low lease amount he asks you to send money to him in a foreign country.  There is no telling how many people have actually fallen for this scam.  It was just by chance that we found out someone was stealing our ads.  There are a few things that you can do if this happens to you:

 - Report the stolen ad to Craig’s List as a scam.

  -File an on-line complaint with the FBI at http://www.IC3.gov/

  -Check the rental property often to insure that no one has moved in without your knowledge.

  -Keep up to date on the latest rental and real estate scams at www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/e-scams.