PLAINFIELD, Ind. - Home renters and buyers beware! A warning, as Plainfield residents are finding their addresses on home rental websites. The problem is, it’s a scam. They’re not for rent, and people are knocking on their doors for showings.
You’ve heard it before; don’t believe everything you see online.
“He said, I got texts saying it’s for rent. Did you text me? I said, no I did not,” said Rodney Lehn.
Lehn is trying to sell his house. But according to an online rental website, he’s renting. People have been coming by his home, claiming they were told too.
Lehn added, “He said, oh my goodness, he said it’s a scam! He said, you ought to tell the police.”
Lehn is not alone. We stopped by two other homes on that same website. Both told us, they're shocked and they're not moving. Those residents also say they’ve had people stopping by to check out their homes because they were told too. In one case, a man was looking through the windows of a house, that he was told would be vacant.
Residents aren't just confused because their houses are up for rent, the information on these websites are incorrect. Lehn’s house is not a 2-bedroom 1-bath like it states on the website. It also says it's up for $600, which Lehn says, is a way lower price than it should be. Not to mention, the pictures of Lehn’s house on the website, don’t match up.
“None of it's correct. It’s a 3-bedroom with 2-full baths and it’s for sale, not for rent,” explained Lehn.
Realtor Patrick Keller is the managing broker at Crestpoint Real Estate. He says this is happening not just here, but across the country. He says, he’s had clients coming in asking about these scams and why they’re happening more often. A broker in Omaha Nebraska said they struggled with this about a year ago, where there were tons of websites out there. People ended up wiring money to these off-shore accounts, that weren’t traceable.
“They’re asking if it’s normal if they should send money to somebody, or if they should set up a showing without us there or meet somebody at a property privately,” said Keller.
It’s not normal. Keller says, scammers are telling the prospective tenants they need to wire money for showings. They’ll even say the money is refundable or will go to a security deposit. After the money is sent, it’s gone forever, and they can’t get in touch with the so-called company anymore.
Keller added, “They should always just reach out to a local real estate agent or adviser and set up showings through them, a local real estate agent would know this house is legitimate and it’s on the market.”
Plainfield police say if it’s too good to be true, it is. Report suspicious websites to the Attorney General’s Office. If people are coming up to your door unexpectedly, be cautious.
“I wouldn’t let anyone in unless I knew they were coming or unless they had a realtor with them,” said Lehn.
Keller suggests searching your address online to make sure scammers aren’t taking advantage of your home.