The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York Office is warning the public to remain on the lookout for scams involving real estate and rental properties. Two largely reported scams, which operate through Internet advertising, are being reported by individuals who have fallen victim to such malicious behavior.
The first type of scam occurs when an individual advertises a rental property and is contacted by someone claiming to be interested. A rental price is agreed-upon and the victim receives a deposit for the rental property in the form of a check. Once the check has been cashed, the scammer backs out of the rental agreement and requests a refund for the funds initially provided. Banks do not usually place a hold on these funds. Since the victim has immediate access to the money once they deposit the check, they believe the check has cleared. When the check is found to be counterfeit, the victim is held responsible by the bank for all losses incurred.
The second scam occurs when real estate is posted on classified advertisement websites and a scammer copies the advertisement, makes changes to the ad, then reposts it and creates an e-mail address using the real broker’s name. When a victim contacts the scammer, who is now posing as the real broker, the scammer claims to be out of the country on missionary work and requests money be sent to them at their current location.
It is important to remember that schemes of this nature can only take place with the public’s participation. The FBI New York is reminding everyone to remain vigilant when solicited by potential scam artists and to use sound judgment and do their due diligence.
Special Agent Richard Kolko, spokesman for the FBI in New York said, “We remind the public to be on constant alert for the rental property and real estate scams that are currently in progress. The New York City area is home to many rental and real estate properties and it is ultimately everyone’s individual responsibility to remain the front line of defense in protecting themselves from this type of activity. The FBI encourages everyone to report information regarding scams of this type to the proper authorities.”
If you have information on computer based rental and real estate scams, we encourage you to file a complaint at www.ic3.gov.