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3-On Your Side: Online Rental Scam Warning

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By Walt Hunter

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An exclusive CBS 3 “On Your Side” report now reveals that online scammers are trying to take advantage of people hoping to rent homes and apartments.

Remax Realtor Rich McIlhenny says half a dozen potential renters have contacted him in the past two days, trying to rent properties they saw offered online.

The problem is that McIlhenny has already sold the properties in question.

The online scammers, stealing information about them, offered the properties for rent hoping to convince potential victims to send security deposits of as much as $500.

Because the scammers have no connection to the properties, victims wont ever be able to move in or recover deposits sent in advance.

McIlhenny, who is sending an online warning about the scams, has cautioned potential renters to inspect properties inside and out. Also, he says, they should meet with either owners or rental agents, before sending any deposits or signing any agreements.

The scammers also try to lure victims into signing complex rental agreements online that ask for personal information that could be used to steal identities.

Another scam warning sign is the incredibly low rental prices offered by scammers, often less than half of what would normally be charged for the properties.

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  • Michael Schaffer

    It is extremely important for renters to check into the landlord and property before signing a lease. I run a service,, which gives renters an easy and free way to find out if there are any pre-foreclosure notices filed against their rental property. We also give renters the ability to find out exactly who the owner of record of a property is, what mortgage and other liens are on the property, and also to learn about past bankruptcies and civil and criminal judgments against the landlord. Too many renters don’t think it is important to research the landlord, but a lease is a large financial commitment that shouldn’t be entered into lightly.

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