Beshear: Don’t let rental scams ruin your big move

Images of couple’s home stolen, posted online by scammer to lure in rental victims

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ)-  According to Attorney General Andy Beshear, renting a luxury log cabin on 10 acres in Fayette County for less than $750 a month is likely too good to be true.

A new scam alert was issued Thursday after Beshear’s Office of Consumer Protection became involved in efforts to stop an online Craigslist’s rental scam.

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Beshear says a Fayette County couple working with a reputable real estate broker to list their home for sale online had their home’s images stolen and used by a scammer who posted a fraudulent rental ad on Craigslist.

According to the victim, the fraud has left her family anxious because renters have been invading her property for weeks after being told by the scammer to send him rent and a security deposit.

“My office refuses to let con artists steal from Kentucky families who are working hard to make ends meet and pay the rent,” said Beshear. “Thankfully, in this case a reporter reached out to us about the owner’s situation, we were able to help the homeowner get the fraudulent ad removed from Craigslist and prevent other hopeful renters from handing over their money to a con artist.”

Beshear says rental property scams heighten around the start of college when some students are rushing to find a place to live and are more likely to be scammed because of their haste.

He said since property scammers usually try to continue their crime by stealing more photos and posting new ads, owners of real property should follow these steps if they find their property is being fraudulently rented online:

  • Contact the owner of the website on which the posting exists, report the posting as fraudulent and request it be removed.
  • If you speak with someone who has interacted with the scammer, gather as much information as you can regarding any communication with the scammer.
  • Take screenshots of the internet posting, as information can change without warning.
  • Report the incident to Beshear’s Office of Consumer Protection.

Renters should be wary of these property scam red flags:

  • A rent or sale price that seems too good to be true.
  • A potential property owner who cannot show their property in person.
  • A story designed to persuade you to trust or have sympathy for the seller or owner.
  • A request to wire money for rent or a security deposit, or use other untraceable methods of payment.

Beshear says potential renters should always research the person or company they are dealing with online before making a payment and never pay rent or make a deposit without meeting the owner or property manager at the property.

Beshear recommends all Kentuckians stay ahead of scammers by signing up for his office’s Scam Alerts. To enroll text the words KYOAG Scam to GOV-311 (468-311) or online at ag.ky.gov/scams and select text message or email alert.