Rental scams on the rise in metro Denver

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DENVER -- Real estate agents say rental scams are on the rise in Denver and they are becoming more sophisticated.

The Scott family thought they found the perfect home. They paid up and moved in, only to discover the man they did business with is a fraud.

He doesn’t own the home. They now have until midnight Thursday to get out.

Tarence Scott and his wife found a home to rent on Mitchell Place in Green Valley Ranch. It was listed on Zillow and they knew they had to have it.

“Immediately told them yes. Yes because it’s a beautiful house. Wonderful. Exactly what we’re looking for,” Scott said.

The landlord told them he was out of town but gave them the code to the lock box to check it out. He told them rent was $910 a month with utilities included.

“It made me feel like OK, he really does own these properties because if he didn’t, how would he know the code changes? They’re digital,” Rigina Scott said.

The Scotts signed the lease, sent a money transfer for the security deposit and first month’s rent, and then happily settled into their new home on Sept. 1.

But three weeks later, there was a notice to quit letter tacked to the door. The Scotts were being evicted.

“Told us if we were not out in three days the sheriff would be here on Thursday to put our stuff out,” Rigina Scott said.

According to the Denver County assessor, the owner of the home is American Homes 4 Rent, based in California.

The property management group said the Scotts are considered squatters.

Licensed real estate agent and broker Kerron Stokes said you should always meet with the landlord or management group in person, only pay with a check or cashier’s check and have the lease verified.

“Anytime you see leases that are stamped with approved on them or have any information that’s really vague about the property, it should be an immediate red flag because it’s just a copy and paste,” Stokes said.

“Google the property if it seems too good to be true as far as the rate they’re charging, it probably is. Secondly, check to see if that house is being actively sold and if it is, contact that real estate agent and find out if this is a scam.”

Legally, the Scotts must vacate the property and will likely never see their money again.

“Not knowing where you’re going to live, it’s devastating. Absolutely devastating,” Rigina Scott said.

The real property manager group is willing to work with the family, but the rent is more than what they can afford.

The group is also working with authorities to figure out how hackers are intercepting their digital lock box.

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