CLAYTON – A Garner woman was looking for a nice three bedroom, two bath home to rent in Johnston County. She saw an online advertisement for a home on Duck Pond Lane near Clayton.
She was given a code to access the lock box and view the property. After expressing interest in how to rent the home, she was told to wire a deposit and first month’s rent totaling $2,000. When she went to move in she discovered a sign on the door warning about potential rental fraud. She discovered she had been scammed and had not legitimately rented the home.
The 38 year-old victim reported the incident to law enforcement. Authorities say it’s unlikely the money can be recovered. It’s one of many rental scams recently reported in the area.
In June, a Clayton resident was scammed out of $5,025 after responding to an online home rental ad for a house on Averasboro Drive. He paid through a cash app and was given the electronic lock box code. Later he realized he had been scammed.
Clayton Police Chief Greg Tart said many of these scammers will ask for money before any kind of lease or rental agreement is signed. The renters will subsequently show up to the property to move in only to learn that someone else is already legitimately living in the home or in some cases the property doesn’t exist.
Police offer these suggestions to avoid being scammed:
- Never send money through a cash app to a person or business that you don’t know the true identity of.
- Never wire money as a rental deposit or payment for any kind of rental fees. If the person is asking you to wire money, more than likely they are trying to scam you.
- Never use prepaid credit cards as payment for rental deposits or fees.
- Visit the property you are looking to rent in person and verify that it is vacant and actually for rent. If someone is trying to rush you to pay money by claiming they have other people interested in the same property, they may be trying to scam you.
- Look for signage representing the legitimate rental agency or legitimate owner of the property and talk with them to verify that it is for rent.
- Meet the person or the representative of the rental agency or owner in person to tour the property.
- Never complete a rental agreement or lease over the phone or online. Do not pay any money before a legitimate lease or rental agreement is signed.
If you find yourself the target of a rental scam, immediately report the incident to your local law enforcement agency and to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).