Ohio Attorney General warns of rental scams - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Ohio Attorney General warns of rental scams

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -

Summertime is the busiest time of year for traveling and moving, which makes travelers susceptible to fraudulent scams. 

Scams often occur when an ad is posted online. The advertised rent is low, which draws in viewers and then the con artists ask for a wired deposit of a couple hundred dollars.

Often times, the pictures of the property are stolen off other websites. 

Reported losses have ranged from $250 to $5,000.

People fall into the rental scam because they seem believable. Con artists usually use stolen photos to promote the real estate.

"Scam artists will say, 'You send us the money, and we'll send you the keys,' but that's a lie," Attorney General DeWine said. "The truth is, these con artists are offering properties they don't own and hoping people will take the bait. We encourage people to be very careful. If someone's asking you to wire a deposit for a property you've never seen in person, there's a good chance it's a scam."

There are several signs of scams. Dewine warns the community to look out for the following:

  • Requests for payment via wire transfer, money order, prepaid card, or gift card.
  • Ads offering below-market rates on houses or apartments.
  • Rental ads offering properties that are listed for sale on other websites.
  • Landlords who offer to rent to you immediately, without checking your credit.
  • Requests for you to wire money before you've seen the property.
  • Landlords who claim they're out of the country for business or missionary work.

To avoid scams:

  • Be wary of requests for wire transfers, money orders, prepaid money cards, or gift cards. These are preferred payment methods for scammers, because once payment is provided, it is nearly impossible to recover.
  • Be skeptical of ads offering below-market rates on houses or apartments. 
  • Check the county auditor's website to determine who owns the property. Be aware that scam artists may pretend to be the true owner.
  • Don't send any money until you've seen a property in person and/or verified that the person communicating with you is truly who he or she claims to be.
  • Be wary of landlords, property owners, or real estate professionals who say they had to leave the country quickly for business or missionary work.
  • Be wary of landlords or property managers who offer to rent property to you without gathering any information from you, such as your credit score or a background check.
  • Copy and paste an image from an online listing into a search engine to determine if it has appeared elsewhere online.
  • Read and follow the scam prevention tips provided by any house or apartment-searching websites you use. 

Consumers can learn more about scams or report potential scams to the Ohio Attorney General's Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.

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