Property manager warns of rent scams

Bob Frenchu, a property manager with Coldwell Bank Best Sellers, had just gotten a bite on a house he was trying to get rented in Dayton when he heard numbers that didn't add up: The potential tenants wanted the deal they saw, which was for $100 less than the listing and all utilities included.

So Frenchu investigated and found that someone else had been illegitimately advertising the property - and was happy to approve his application to rent it, as soon as they got some move-in cash from him.

He said the family looking to get the sweeter deal from him were ready to pay up for the false offer.

"You would throw away almost $1,000 and never see it again" if you followed through with the scammers, Frenchu said. "And for most people, that's an incredible amount of money to have to save up."

He said it's the second time he's come across a scam like that in the past two months and this is the first batch of false for-rent scams he's seen in his five years as a property manager.

"I don't know if it is a growing problem in the area or not, but I know it's happened to me twice in the past couple of months, and that can't be a good sign," he said.

Elisabeth Daniels, chairwoman of the state's Fight Fraud Task Force, wrote in an email that the scam's not new to Nevada or even a growing trend statewide - but the continuing economic hardships suffered by Nevada families might be making them more susceptible to it.

Many families are looking for ways to downsize, such as by renting, she said, and some consumers will make quicker decisions during times of financial stress.

"As a result, they may not do their research as thoroughly as they might have previously," she said.

Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong echoed Daniels, saying that his department has been seeing more scammers using legitimate businesses and reputable locals as cover.

"I wouldn't use the word 'widespread,' but it is becoming apparent that more people in Carson City have become part of this ploy," Furlong said.

The sheriff said at least one local man had his email contacts accessed, which led to all of his contacts receiving messages pleading for money to be sent overseas. He urged people not to click fishy links in their emails and always verify distressed requests before sending money - advice echoed by Frenchu for people to verify who owns the property and be vigilant.

"There's just no end to the different little email scams," Frenchu said.


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