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