Monday, December 19, 2011

Bay Area rent fraud traps unwary

People who are relocation need to be real careful right now when seeking rentals on
Scammers are pretending they own homes to get large checks from rentors...
so if it looks like a great deal and too good to be true, it might be =)
just be careful out there people!

Bay Area rent fraud traps unwary

By Pete Carey
Posted: 12/15/2011 08:23:27 AM PST
Updated: 12/15/2011 10:21:15 AM PST

File this under too good to be true: One bedroom condo in Walnut Creek a short distance from the city's tony downtown; water, Internet and garbage included; pets OK; $850 a month.
As if the housing crisis wasn't plagued with enough fraud already, a new bunch of scammers is advertising homes for rent that they don't own and probably have never even seen.
The homes are often foreclosed and empty, or are for sale. The advertised rent is rock bottom, and the would-be renter must send a deposit to get the keys. The scam has become more frequent as unemployment and foreclosures have flooded the rental market with people desperate for something they can afford.
Legal secretary Sherry Davis said she regularly encounters these scams on Craigslist and other online classified ad sites. She's trying to find a place to rent, after losing her Walnut Creek condo to foreclosure following a hospitalization and loss of a job.
"It's rampant," Davis said. "The bottom line is if they can't show you the inside of the property, be very wary."
The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office has received complaints, some from people who have made the deposit, moved in and paid rent, only to find out later they've been victimized.
"With so many foreclosures on the market, we have had complaints of people lying and saying they have the right to rent the property, and they don't," said Paul Colin, a deputy district attorney. "We've heard of

situations where people have moved in."
Prosecuting is not easy. "If someone reports a crime and can't tell you anything about who ripped them off, then it's very difficult for us to pursue the culprit," he said.
Steve Mun, of Keller Williams Realty in San Jose, said he's had homes listed for sale offered as rentals by online scammers.
"They take my listing, flip it around, advertise it as a rental. People are told to wire money to an overseas account," Mun said. Monday, the Web page of one of his listings, a home offered for $760,000 on Alisal Avenue in San Jose, was copied and listed by scammers as a rental for $3,000 a month.
"Usually, the common thread is, I'm the owner, I'm out of the country for some reason, and that is why I can't come and meet you. If you're interested, here's my bank account, for the deposit," Mun said
It has become such a problem that Mun has blogged about it several times. Mostly, people aren't taken in, he said, especially if they go by the home and see a "for sale" sign on the lawn.
Mun said one scammer told a would-be renter they couldn't go in the house but only look inside through the window.
In her search for an apartment, Davis -- who from 1993-99 was


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