Nonprofit warns community of rental scammers

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The northern Indiana Better Business Bureau has a warning about rental scammers.

The BBB recently conducted an international investigation that hits close to home.

Imagine looking for a home online and contacting the person who posted the listing, they respond saying they can’t show you the property in person, but you can peek through a window to check it out yourself. Then that person ask you to send a deposit. Well, that is what happened to one Fort Wayne resident.

John Paschall is one of many Americans who was almost conned by a rental scam artist.

“We went on Facebook Marketplace, saw a really good place pretty much what we were looking for, but the rent seemed extremely low,” said Paschall. “He said it was so low because he just wanted somebody to take care of the property while he was out of state.”

After finding a beautiful home with a cheap price tag on Facebook, Paschall decided to reach out to the person who posted the listing. He then noticed the red flags.

“He said he was working out of state,” said Paschall. “He had to move, he had a job out of state , his father passed away, so he couldn’t show us the property in person.”

Paschall says the man told him he could drive by the property and look inside the windows. That’s when he asked for the deposit and application fee.

“He said pay no attention to the for sale sign that was in the yard, he was going to sale it but he decided to rent it instead of selling it,” said Paschall. “Since he’s been out of town he hasn’t been able to come back and take up the for sale sign”.

It just so happens, Paschall works for the better business bureau, so he knew what to look out for. But the BBB’s Maria Omar says their study shows many people do not.

“What we are finding is that forty-three percent of renters looking online for a place to stay or live in,” said Omar “They have come across a fake rental listing”.

Omar says that 5.1 million Americans have been affected and one-third of those people have lost an average of $1000.

“These scammers are using these pin points, they know you want a nice place to live and you don’t want to lose it,” said Omar.

Pascal never paid the scammer. He has these tips to protect yourself:

  • Never send money for property you haven’t seen
  • Always try and see the property in person
  • If it’s too good to be true, it probably is

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