Rental scams increasing in Louisville area - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Rental scams increasing in Louisville area

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A fake lease agreement drafted to scam a victim attempting to rent a Shively home. A fake lease agreement drafted to scam a victim attempting to rent a Shively home.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - Rental scams can be very complex, and the schemes are becoming increasingly common in the Louisville area. 

Daniel Cruz showed up to a home in Shively thinking he was going to live there. He had already sent a security deposit and the first month's rent. A disabled veteran freshly discharged out of VA hospital, he was ready to start a new life.

When the doors were locked, and he couldn't find a key, Cruz realized he was scammed out of almost $1,000.

"The neighbor to the right came out and told us that we had been like the third or fourth people that have showed up there expecting to rent that property, and it's a scam,” Cruz said. 

With nowhere to go and limited financial resources due to his disability, Cruz is unsure of his next move.

"We're not really sure what we're going to do,” Cruz said. “I mean, I thought we were going to start over down here in Kentucky.”

Scammers are copying real posts advertising properties for sale in the area and fraudulently re-listing the homes as "for rent" with different contact information on rental sites like Craigslist. The Better Business Bureau calls this "Hijacked Ads."

"These rental scams are highly common,” said Reanna Smith-Hamblin, President of the Louisville Better Business Bureau. “They look legitimate, highly legitimate."

In this particular scam, the crook posed as the real owner of the home but gave contact information in California. Finding a home’s owner is as easy as a search online. We spoke with the true owner of the property Monday. She didn't want to do an on-camera interview but told us she was made aware of the scam but had absolutely no part in it. 

"The problem is these are stolen listings from houses that are for sale sometimes, so it's very hard to tell what's real and not so real,” Smith-Hamblin said. 

There are ways to protect yourself and your wallet. Some red flags to look out for from the Better Business Bureau:

  • The price is too good to be true. Know the property values in the area. If the unit is advertised for much less than the current asking price of similar units in the area, be suspicious.
  • You should also be careful if the advertisement is riddled with spelling or grammatical errors.
  • Watch out for any property owners or managers who claim to be overseas or give you any other excuse for why they cannot meet in person or show you the unit in question.
  • Never send money to someone you don’t know - especially if they’re asking for a wire transfer or prepaid debit card. Using either of these methods is like sending cash - it’s untraceable and, if you get scammed, it’s unlikely that you’ll get your money back.
  • Don’t pay a deposit or for a credit application until you have seen the property, physically met with the property owner or manager, and signed a lease agreement.

“I would be you know checking out the place, shaking hands, getting the keys, exchanging money in that way,” Smith-Hamblin said. 

To report a scam using the BBB’s scam tracker, click here

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