Realtor Warns of This Rental Scam in Iowa
Renting a house or apartment is already stressful enough. Sifting through various sites like Apartments.com and Zillow, cold-calling strangers, and trying to set up viewings is liable to drive you crazy. The last thing you want is to be scammed. But sure enough, some people know no bottom in terms of how low they can go.
Which is why a realtor in Ames, IA is warning potential renters and tenants to be on the lookout for a certain scam she happened upon.
Misty Metschke has been a realtor with Hunziker and Associates for years, but even she was surprised at the depth of complexity with the recent scam she faced. It was jarring enough that she felt compelled to go public with it via Local 5.
It Began on Facebook Marketplace:
Metschke told Local 5 that she was looking through Facebook Marketplace listings when she noticed something strange. She said that the scammer created a fake email address with the real sellers' name in the actual Gmail address. To the untrained eye, it would look legitimate.
Metschke got in contact with somebody who reached out to the scammer, and was able to look at their email exchange. Immediately, the red flags showed themselves.
What to Look For:
This Ames realtor noticed the email was filled with bad grammar, a tell-tale sign that something isn't legitimate. The prospective tenant told Metschke that they researched the property and found her contact number before forking over the deposit.
Doing so saved her money and the risk of any of her personal information being stolen.
What's Being Done:
Rest assured, the FBI and the Better Business Bureau Iowa have been steadfast in trying to stop scammers, all while keeping records. Last year, the FBI reported 11,578 people claimed losing over $350 million (!!!) due to rental schemes. That was up from 64% in 2020.
There are steps you can take to prevent being scammed, according to BBB Iowa President Chris Coleman:
- Research the property. Search the address and see if it comes up in other cities or states.
- Look at similarly priced homes, and be wary if the price doesn't align with the quality and/or size.
- Don't exchange large sums of money over apps.
Do Your Part, Report Scams:
To report suspected instances of fraud or scamming, you can share information through the BBB's reporting portal.