Online rental property scams float across TN Valley - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Online rental property scams float across TN Valley

Scammers will duplicate legitimate listings and substitute their own contact information. (Source: WAFF) Scammers will duplicate legitimate listings and substitute their own contact information. (Source: WAFF)
HARVEST, AL (WAFF) -

In the market for a home? If you're using the internet to narrow down your search, hold off on clicking that Submit button just yet.

Online schemes are hitting folks all over the Tennessee Valley.

We've all grown accustomed to doing business over the internet, so comfortable in fact, that some are willing to buy or rent big ticket items like cars, boats and houses.

However, criminals are also out there looking for you.

A viewer contacted us after realizing she almost got taken for hundreds of dollars on a rental property scam.

A 4-bedroom, 2-bath home on Gardendale Lane in Harvest is actually up for rent.

It also has a real sign for a Realtor in the yard, however, the woman who was interested in renting it saw a separate and bogus ad for the home on Craigslist.

The fake owner told her she was parting ways with her Realtor and wanted to handle the listing on her own.

The potential renter never spoke to the "owner" over the phone because she told her she was deaf and lived in Arizona. On top of that, the keys to the home were also in Arizona, so she couldn't tour the house and could only look through the windows.

Michele Mason with the Better Business Bureau said criminals search the web for legitimate listings but then swap out the contact information with their own email and wait for an unsuspecting renter to take the bait.

"Getting to that point, where they are starting to talk about money and you're going to have to pay it, site unseen, that's when you should start realizing that something is not right," said Michele Mason with the Better Business Bureau. "You have to listen to your instinct and look at the red flags because if it sounds great, it's not going to be great if you lose your money to a bad deal."

Remember, scammers are not lazy - they'll take the extra effort to make their offer sound great.

It's up to you to inspect everything. Click here for a list of other tips on spotting and reporting scams and fraud.

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