CLAYTON – A Georgia couple attempting to relocate for work in our area lost a large sum of money after falling victim to an online housing scam. The young couple, in their 20’s, was looking online at rental homes and saw a listing for a house on Chanticleer Circle in Flowers Plantation.
The couple emailed the person listed in the ad as the contact, and was given a code to the lock box to inspect the home. After agreeing to lease the home, the couple agree to wire $5,090 to cover the first and last month’s rent and other fees. After sending the money, they were told the owner would meet with them in person at the home to sign the lease. The scammer never showed up.
Later they realized the person did not own the home and the ad was fake. The owner of the home was not aware of the scam.
Authorities are working to try and identify the suspect, but more than likely they are overseas.
In many cases, the scammers give excuses why they can’t meet in person to begin with, and often list the property several hundred dollars below what a similar home would rent for in the area. Some even demand money up front before they view the home. Some of the temporary email accounts they establish have unusual user names.
If you are unable to easily verify the owner of a property listed for rent online, meet in person, or confirm if the home even exists, experts say don’t hesitate to look for another property.