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Housing scam warning for potential renters

March 19, 2012 2:17:56 PM PDT
Scammers are always coming up with new ways to rip you off.

There is a new warning about people trying to trick you into renting a home that they don't own.

It didn't take long for Lorienny Jimenez of the Bronx to realize the online listing for a $700 a month, 2-bedroom rental in Yonkers was bogus.

"He said, 'I want a thousand deposit and we'll send you a package.' I said, 'Just forget about it,'" Jimenez said.

Realtors in the northern suburbs say they've seen an alarming number of online scammers who cut and paste pictures of legitimate for sale properties and re-post them as available rentals on websites like Craigslist and Trulia.

Then, they demand money for a security deposit or first month's rent before disappearing into cyber-space.

"It's happening more and more lately, and I believe this is happening throughout the country, five to six times in the last month," said Geoffrey Berry, of Houlihan Lawrence.

Berry offers these tips for potential renters:

-Always verify the homeowner. Demand to see the property's title or deed.
-Call a local real estate agent to see if the property is listed for sale or for rent.
-Do your homework. Learn as much as you can about the property.

Without any physical evidence or even real names, investigators acknowledge it's difficult to track down the online scammers.

It's just one more reason why would-be renters need to be on the alert.

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