You’ve heard it said before, “South Florida is the mecca of fraud” and this time scammers are targeting potential renters looking for deals. After reading a few articles on the topic, I thought I needed to post this on the HomeGain Blog. I work with renters coming from around the country looking for seasonal rentals, short terms rentals, and annual rentals. Naturally everybody wants the deal of a lifetime.
When potential renters arrive in Florida they are shocked to see that most homes and condos for rent require a first month, last month, and security deposit; also a great place for a potential tenant to be scammed by shelling out that kind of money all at once, but I’ll save that blog post for another time. Upon arrival to Florida often times the renters are shocked when I tell them the list of properties they wanted to see have all already been rented. What I do is provide a list of rentals that matches their criteria and we go check them out. Most of the time, the client will take my word for it and understand just how hot the rental market is.
Here is where the scammer comes in. Since the client has only worked with me for a day, they will go online themselves to various websites, possibly even Craigslist, not knowing if I am telling them the truth that the rentals they wanted were taken. The scared client calls the telephone # of an ad they seen on Craigslist. The client sees this beautiful 2,000 sq/ft homes with a pool listed at $1,200 a month when actually that same home is listed at $2,400 a month in the MLS. The scammer will use the exact same photos of the house and even make a fake email address. For example, if the name on the deed is Alex Bentley, the scammer will make up an email like firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next, the client calls the phone number and the scammer tells the clients that they are away on a mission’s trip in another country, but they will send the keys to the tenant for cash, and to let them know if they are interested. Yes, believe it or not many people have been taken this year in South Florida.
I personally recommend potential renters and home buyers use a professional honest real estate agent to help guide them through the process. A good real estate agent can save you from being scammed out of thousands of dollars. But, buyer beware, South Florida also has scammers that are fake real estate agents. I could go on and on, but please do your homework, do not get emotional over any property, and please hire a professional honest real estate agent while you’re touring South Florida for you dream home or rental.