The Consumer Protection Unit of the Delaware Department of Justice warns Delawareans during this peak vacation season to be careful when they are looking for a vacation rental. The scammers operating rental scam schemes find legitimate rental postings and capture the information and photos of the property, and then list it on Craigslist or other online advertising platforms. Unsuspecting consumers looking for a good deal on a vacation rental find the bogus posting, send a deposit, and receive confirmation of their rental only to arrive and find other people in the home, are unable to gain access, or are otherwise turned away from the property they believed they had rented.
Rental home scams are also occurring with regard to longer term residential rentals. Again ads are placed on sites like Craigslist and marketed at very low monthly rental rates. The scammers steal information from legitimate for-rent postings, and troll neighborhoods for vacant, abandoned and foreclosed homes. Prospective tenants in these scenarios may be shown the property before moving in as the scammers have changed the locks to unlawfully gain access. The scammers will collect a security deposit and first month’s rent, and may even provide keys and allow the consumer to move into the property. Typically, only when the true owner or a neighbor notices, will the tenant be aware they have been conned. The scammers in these scenarios typically require that monthly rent be paid in cash and will often appear in-person at the residence to collect the rent.
All consumers should be diligent before entering into any type of lease for a rental property or providing any deposit or rental payment by taking these steps first:
Consumers who believe they may have been scammed should contact their local police department and file a report. They can also call the Attorney General’s toll-free Consumer Hotline at 1-800-220-5424 or email the Consumer Protection Unit of DOJ at firstname.lastname@example.org. If the listing was posted on an online platform, such as Craigslist, the consumer should also file complaints with the online platform and with federal law enforcement at www.ic3.gov.Related Topics: consumer protection • CPU • Delaware • Delaware Department of Justice • DOJ • rental scams • Scams
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