Real estate agents warn of housing rental scams - KPTV - FOX 12

Real estate agents warn of housing rental scams

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Real estate agents say scammers will find homes for sale off a public website, then list them for a discounted rate, and when it comes time for the renters to sign on the dotted line, they realize they have been duped.

This happened to a girl from Silverton named Ashley. 

"I'm 33 and I'm single and I don't smoke," she said. 

Like so many others, she said she is trying to move to the Rose City.

During her search, she said she stumbled on a listing on Craigslist that seemed too good to be true. It was a three-bedroom rental in Irvington for $650 a month, and it included electricity and cable.

"Of course I scramble to email them really quick and was like, 'Oh my gosh, I'm so interested...' and I asked please send me whatever pictures you have or can I set up a viewing," Ashley said. 
 
She said the significantly discounted rate raised a few flags, but when she received an email from the seller the next day, she said she felt more at ease. The alleged homeowner claimed to be from a Christian family and worked for a nonprofit – something that tugged at Ashley's heart strings.
 
"I work for a nonprofit so I was like, 'OK, I can see that' and maybe they were out of state working for this nonprofit that they had mentioned and I was like, 'Oh, that's very interesting," she said. 
 
Ashley said she filled out an email questionnaire with her personal information. While waiting to hear back to set up a walk-through, she decided to check out the house herself.
 
She said, "There was a guy coming out of the house going to his car and I was like, 'Oh, I don't want to bother him,' I wonder if that's somebody viewing the place."
 
But it wasn't. It turned out, that man was the owner and he just sold his home. Ashley said she called the real estate agent on the sign outside. He confirmed her worst nightmare.
 
"It sounds beautiful, but it's just a bunch of smoke and mirrors," said real estate agent Bob Hastings.
 
Hastings told her the house was not for rent and person claiming to rent it out was a scammer.
 
"Let's say 20 percent of the houses are getting hit on this scam, that's a lot of houses," he said. 
 
Hastings said Ashley was one of the lucky ones.

"Maybe we're going to end up having to put signs in the window, I don't know, this house is not for rent, if you see such an ad it's a scam. I don't know, I don't think people will even believe that ... because they want to believe what they're being told so badly," Hastings said. 
 
This happened last Wednesday. Since then, Ashley said she has come across at least three other scams on Craigslist. 

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