Bold crooks renting out homes they don’t own, scamming tenants

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - There's a home rental scam taking central Indiana by storm. Home rental scams are nothing new, but the crooks are getting bolder, renting homes they don't even own!

"It's hitting a lot of different people," said Jeremy Tallman, President and Managing Broker at T & H Realty Services.

Tallman has seen case after case this year. He recalls a handful in recent weeks and said other management companies like his are also experiencing the same.

His company manages properties for homeowners and lines them up to rent. The method is the same, he said.

"They line up tenants in some way, and then will literally deliver possession to the people paying first month's rent and security deposit," he said.

A crook gets the key out of the lockbox on the front door and starts showing the home to potential tenants. The tenants rent, pay cash, and then his company finds the unsuspecting tenants squatting - but not really.

"Possession does entitle them to rights," he said.

Often he and the owner pay the tenant to leave, cash for keys it's called, so they don't have to go to court and legally evict them.

It happened right across the street from Dana Chase. The scammed tenants moved out, and the legitimate ones moved in.

"I saw some people there out of nowhere. And I was like, I didn't know anybody moved in. A day or two later they were moving out," she said, "It was pretty weird."

Tallman has some tips if you're renting a home.

  • Watch out for landlords asking you to pay in cash.
  • Look up the address of the property you're interested in to see if it is already listed.
  • Offer to meet a landlord at their office and drive to the property.
  • Ask a landlord for identification, like a business card.

IMPD said they're aware that these scams are out there.  Police said they typically don't get involved because the matters are commonly civil in nature.