How do you discover that the house you’re renting out has become the focus of a scam? Well, If the scam’s targets show up on your doorstep, that’s one clue. The owners of the Heights home on Rutland St. pictured above found themselves in that situation last night. So this morning one of them sent Swamplot this tale, hoping readers will have some helpful advice to offer:
We recently bought a bigger house in the Heights and listed our current house for rent on the MLS. All went well (had a lease signed with a great tenant in just three days!) until last night. This friendly couple rang the doorbell and told me that they had been texting with the owner of the house for a week about renting it. She told them she was on a mission trip in Washington DC and couldn’t show them the house right away, but that they should come by the house and look in the windows. If they liked what they saw they were to send her a deposit check. I was flummoxed since I am the owner and had signed a lease two weeks earlier with someone else. I had heard about this happening with rentals listed on Craigslist but didn’t think the scammers would take it to this level. They had posted fraudulent listings on several sites, including Trulia.com and HotPads.com. They listed it for less rent than the real posting and said we’d take dogs and cats.
So, what should I do? I’m really worried about other people peeping in our windows, or showing up angry because they paid a deposit! My realtor has never heard of this happening but is contacting HAR to see if they have some advice. My understanding is that most of these scammers are Nigerian anyway so it’s not like HPD is going to send forces there. I asked the Constable to keep an extra eye on the house. But the ad on HotPads is still active. I haven’t tried engaging the scammer. My next action will be to ask HotPads to take down the listing. Any other advice?
- 1233 Rutland St. [HotPads]