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BBB study reveals home, vacation rental scams are on the rise

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Fraudulent rental and vacation properties are on the rise. In fact, 85% of consumers reported to the Better Business Bureau that they’ve encountered a fake listing. Although many don’t fall victim, the ones that do end up losing a lot of cash.

Crystal Housley was so excited to rent a home she found on the far east side.

“We were exchanging information, going back and forth,” Housley said.

Until the money she paid to live there was gone. The scammer posed as a renter through multiple e-mails and text messages and she lost out on $1,025.

“After I went to go visit the home, I was intrigued by it and wanted it, so I started the process of getting approved and going through the necessary steps,” said Housley.

She knew it was fake when the actual company reached out.

“I was very mad, I was upset,” Housley explained, “I was angry but at the same time I was like you know what, from the information I had just learned that person could probably use it, because I will make it back up.”

According to a new in-depth investigative study by the BBB, a third of people who fall victim lose $1,000 or more. Rental scams involving apartments, houses and vacation properties impact millions.

“They’re just trying to get you to pay a first months deposit, a security deposit, get your money and disappear,” said Tim Maniscalo is the President and CEO of the BBB Serving Central Indiana.

He says these fake ads can be found in the newspaper and online.

“What they’ll do is look at a property, copy a picture of that, copy a description, then they’ll put their own contact information and then victims say, hey, this is a great deal. They’ll offer it for something well below market value,” said Maniscalo.

Most credible websites will warn you. Maniscalo says do your research. Take a notice if a property is well below market value or the renters ask for unusual forms of payment, especially wire transfers. All red flags that Housley now says she’s aware of.

“Call the company, talk to the leasing agent, looks for IDs, look for real estate agent numbers, serial numbers, anything possible so that way you don’t have to go through it,” said Housley.

Because thinking it could never happen to me, isn’t good enough.

“It’s happening all over the country and it’s getting larger and larger every day,” said Maniscalo.

According to the report people in their 20s and early 30s tend to the victims of these scams. If you would like to file a report first do so with the police. Then, go to BBB.com to file a complaint.

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