Outer Banks rental scams are ris­ing with fake ‘land­lord’ of­fer­ing houses

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - News - BY AARON MOODY [email protected]­sob­server.com

Real­tors say they are see­ing more of an on­line scam that tar­gets peo­ple look­ing to rent prop­er­ties on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

The scam has been spot­ted in Craigslist ads and ap­plies to both short­and long-term rentals for the pop­u­lar bar­rier is­land va­ca­tion spot, ac­cord­ing to the Outer Banks As­so­ci­a­tion of Real­tors.

Scam­mers post ads “of­fer­ing ex­tremely low monthly pric­ing,” and some even list le­git­i­mate Outer Banks rental com­pa­nies, the as­so­ci­a­tion said.

“What hap­pens is that the scam­mer will down­load pic­tures of a house that has just sold and will post it in a Craigslist ad as a long or short-term rental,” Dan Suther­land, the group’s MLS di­rec­tor, said in a state­ment. “The ad is eye-catch­ing be­cause the monthly price is very low, and the pic­tures are higher qual­ity. Po­ten­tial renters are lulled into a false sense of se­cu­rity es­pe­cial- ly if a lo­cal rental com­pany and agent are listed.”

Peo­ple who re­spond to an ad re­ceive an email from a fake land­lord, who in­vites them to check out the prop­erty but has an elab­o­rate story for why they can­not meet them in per­son.

The pos­ing land­lord will also talk up the in­ter­est in the rental prop­erty and push peo­ple to wire them rent pay­ments in ad­vance to en­sure their reser­va­tion is se­cured.

The as­so­ci­a­tion has re­ceived five re­ports of the scam this year, and Suth- er­land says many more cases ex­ist and have gone un­re­ported sim­ply be­cause vic­tims don’t know who to con­tact.

“Ba­si­cally, if it looks too good to be true, it is,” Suther­land said. “Pay at­ten­tion if warn­ing bells go off and never wire funds with­out meet­ing the land­lord first. It is al­ways a good idea to search the Dare County tax records to see if the home was re­cently sold and if the cur­rent owner’s name matches the land­lord’s.”

Any­one who thinks they have fallen vic­tim to the scam is asked to im­me­di­ately call the Outer Banks As­so­ci­a­tion of Real­tors at 252-441-4036 so the group can as­sist in re­port­ing the crime.

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