Scammers Renting Out Homes. The Problem: They Don't Actually Own Them

Categories: Scam Alert
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If you're in the market to lease a rental home, a good rule of thumb is to make sure the person from whom your renting actually owns the house.

This bit of advice is compliments of the Phoenix Police Department, which is warning the public about a scam where people are renting out foreclosed homes they don't even own.

The scam's actually pretty ingenious -- for criminals, anyway.

According to Phoenix Sergeant Steve Martos, the scammers will break into foreclosed homes and change the locks. Then, they advertise that they're renting out the house. The ads often will be for a month-to-month lease with no credit check.

The scammers then will meet potential renters at the home. Because they changed the locks, they have a key, so everything seems legit. But it's not.

The renters fork over first month's rent and move-in fees, and everything seems fine -- until they try to move in and realize the house is in foreclosure and the scammer never had the authority to rent it.

Martos says the loss to each of victim has ranged from between $800 to $1,900 in cash.

Many of the victims have been going through foreclosure themselves and are desperate to find a place to live, Martos says.     

One suspect has been arrested in connection with the scams, 35-year-old Raul Juarez, but police believe others are duping victims with a similar scam.

Phoenix police recomend that renters "do their homework" before exchanging any cash when renting a house.

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4 comments
Las Vegas Foreclosures
Las Vegas Foreclosures

So much i've heard about with this topic. Scammers Renting Out Homes are despretely making money. Just be aware guys.

Mike Vollmer
Mike Vollmer

Just an old game that must have finally made it to Phoenix.  This happened to us years ago with an apartment we were cleaning & painting to re-rent.  They only changed the lock on the back door; we came in the front door & didn't notice until later in the afternoon when the new tenants showed up to move in.  Unfortunately for the new tenants, they were still looking for a new apartment after they met us.

The said thing is that these crooks really prey on vulnerable people who've scraped together everything they have a for a deposit & the rent, and then they are left with no money  & no home.

Rex Reason
Rex Reason

The problem of vacant homes and vandalism/abuse is rampant and will likely get worse.  It needs to be addressed by the city and police department(s), or else those houses will simply sit longer and attract potential crime.

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