How to avoid real estate and rental scams

Problem Solvers

DENVER (KDVR) — Before you jump to hand over a downpayment on a real estate or apartment rental ad that seems to be true, there are a few things to consider.

Investigators tell the FOX31 Problem Solvers real estate scams are on the rise in cities where properties are in high demand, especially New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix and Denver.

Eryn Riley says she was devastated to learn that she would never end up moving into a house that seemed perfect for her family.

She put down more than $3,000. The person who posted it, giving fake information, then said there was a sudden emergency.

“She said she broke her leg, was in a car accident and barely survived. (She) said she couldn’t show me the house because of the COVID situation going on and that also seemed believable.” Riley said.

The transaction was canceled. Riley was never sent a refund. 

Better Business Bureau investigator Ezra Coopersmith says, “Unfortunately, a lot of these scams come about when somebody is moving to a new city and have to do all of their apartment hunting online.”

He warns that the listings look real because the pictures are copied from real ads.

Scammers also want to trick you into giving away your personal information.

 “When you click on them, you get some communication saying, ‘In order to see this listing, you have to sign up for a catalog,'” Coopersmith said.

Riley contacted the Problem Solvers because she wants to warn buyers and renters to get references and run a check on anyone offering a deal that seems too good to be true. She has a special message for scammers.

“Don’t take advantage of people. It’s really wrong. I was almost homeless,” Riley said.

The Better Business Bureau advises anyone searching for a new home to check out any realtor or rental agent with the state registry and utilize legitimate housing search agencies or apps that come with references to avoid being scammed.

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