my daughter used your sight to rent a house and just got ripped off for a thousand dollars give advice

Asked by Ed Starns, Alpine, CA Thu Mar 8, 2012

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Cory La Scala, Agent, San Diego, CA
Thu Mar 8, 2012
Hi Ed,

First, let me say that what happened to your daughter is terrible, and it's happening more and more to people these days.

There are many scam artists using many web sites, not just this one. It's up to the person renting to do their due diligence when sending money to people they don't know. Did she check out her contact person? Was the rent lower than other rents in the area for a very nice home? If it's too good to be true, it is.

These days, if you're renting from a landlord, it's a good idea to have a real estate agent do a quick look up of the owner's name to be sure what you're being told is true; it only takes a second for us to do it. If it's a property management company advertising the home, go to the office and make an appointment to see it from there. And, NEVER wire anyone you haven't personally met and checked out, money in exchange for keys. You just can't be too careful these days.

You're best bet is to call the police at this point. Unfortunately, it's hard not to use the internet to find a rental, just go forward using much more caution.

2 votes
Darrell D. D…, Agent, Schertz, TX
Wed Jun 13, 2012
So many colleagues have already voiced their opinion, but to succinctly put my 2 cents - if any site asks to wire funds, STAY AWAY. No respectable property manager will deal with a tenant over the internet only. Showing the property, obtaining an application, etc., are standard processes. if the rental appears to be just an exchange of money, then it probably is just that. Sorry about your daughter.
1 vote
Alex Gomez, , San Diego, CA
Thu Mar 8, 2012
Oh man, sorry to hear that. If the renter is a property manager, then most likely he (or she) is licensed. Even he is not licernsed, I reccommend you send a complaint to the Department of Real Estate. He can probably lose his license, and you will be helping out others in the future. Not all of us Realtors are bad, so it's good to weed out the bad ones. Good luck.
1 vote
Linda S. Cef…, Agent, Franklin, WI
Thu Mar 8, 2012
There are many, many rental scams on the internet and Trulia is not immune to that. I am so sorry that your daughter has become a victim of this and so many others before her. It would be wise to check into the details of the scam and report it along with all written documentation to the authorities.

Trulia, Craig's list and hundreds of other free web sites offer a public service. So for future purposes, please be diligent in your research. Never, ever send money to someone you don't know. Never, ever give anyone your personal information.

Unfortunately, I don't believe we are going to see an end to this and other types of scams anytime soon. And I know it isn't going to come as much comfort to you, but those scamers contact me several times a week. We must be extremely careful these days when doing anything over the internet.

And finally, I hope you reported the scamer to Trulia's spam department.
1 vote
Sinead McAll…, Agent, Oceanside, CA
Thu Mar 8, 2012
Oh no! She needed to make sure it was legit! There are so many rental scams out there! If they ask you to wire them the money or have a "too good to be true" rental amount, those are the red flags!
1 vote
Trudi Geniale, Agent, San Diego, CA
Sun May 27, 2012
I of course don't see all of the information. Unfortunately there are many scams running out there right now. I have people who call or stop in and if the ad is tooo good to be true its usually a scam. You are not going to find a 2 bedroom house with all kinds of amenities for $1000.00.

It is very important to use a local Realtor who knows the area you are moving to. Have them send the rentals available on the MLS. The Seller always pays the Realtor and the only fees the Renter pays is a credit report fee which is minimal and a moving deposit if moving into a condo. A lot of scams look to get credit card number or have you run a credit report.

I am so sorry your daughter was ripped off! Unfortunately scammers are all over the place expecially in these hard time. Rentals are at an all time low right now so the scammers know where to work the best areas.

Good luck and I hope you can get the money back.
Trudi Geniale
0 votes
inna ivchenko, Agent, Calabasas, CA
Thu Apr 12, 2012
We had today again a rental scam.
If any of you are going to rent any time soon,
be careful!
There are few /similar/ scams ( we had #3):

1) A scammer locates a vacant property and begins marketing it for rent as if they own it. Sometimes the scammer says that they live out of the area or out of the country, has the tenants answer a few questions via email, and agrees to rent the property to someone and send them the keys once the prospective tenant sends them the deposit funds and sometimes first month’s rent; money is sent. Of course, when the people send the money, they do not receive the keys. They same property is supposedly “rented” to several people who send in money and do not receive keys.

2) The scammer locates a vacant property that is not for sale and changes the locks on it and shows the home as if he is the owner. He then writes up a bogus rental agreement, collects the money and gives the tenants the keys to the property; sometimes they collect rent for a while, but usually they disappear after the keys are given. The “tenants “ move in and later either the actual homeowner or the bank, if the property has been foreclosed on, discovers that these “tenants” are living in the property and have to deal with getting them out.

3) A similar scenario is that the home is actually listed for sale or rent (it may or may not be vacant) and Scammer snags the photos, property descriptions and such from the online listing sites and advertises the property online as if they own it and tells people that the current tenants are not being cooperative for showings, so they will have to rely on the marketing photos if they want to rent the property.
Sometimes the person is local and sometimes not, and the rest of the story goes like scenarios 1 & 2 above.

In our case, they changed locks and removed a realtor sign.....
Well, i understand that some of you want to save money, but renting from owner might mean a risk.
If you are represented by a realtor, you don't pay, landlord pays, but it is really small fee....
Does it worth the risk to go on your own?
0 votes
Emily Erekuff, Home Owner, Menifee, CA
Mon Mar 12, 2012
Hi Ed,

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We are very sorry to hear that your daughter was the victim of a scam and would like to do all we can to help. If you or your daughter can let us know which listing the scam originated from, and/or provide us with the email correspondence she had with the supposed owner or property manager, that would be very helpful.

Please contact our Customer Service team with that information if possible. You can reach them by phone at 888-466-3501 Monday - Friday 7am to 4pm PST, or by email via

I also encourage you both to check out the link below to read our PSA about real estate phishing scams. Knowing the red flags will help you and your daughter protect yourselves in the future.

Thank you,

0 votes
Dorene Slavi…, Agent, Torrance, CA
Sat Mar 10, 2012
Dear Ed,
Most of the agents here do advise potential clients to contact a "local Realtor" for specific questions and help with purchase and rentals. This kind of situation is precisely the reason we do.
0 votes
inna ivchenko, Agent, Calabasas, CA
Fri Mar 9, 2012
I'm sorry to hear that, Ed.....

I agree with most answers: there are too many rental and other kinds of scams on all internet sites and Trulia, too.
I work with a lot of rents these days, some of my tenants are out of state or out of country, often a short term. Most of the times, tenants are required to pay deposit upfront before moving in~~ and it is true, we hear about scams .....
My suggestion would be:
renting a place, always(!!!) work with a licensed professional( realtor or management company).

I don't see details of your situation, but not working with a licensee one might risk to: loose deposit, have problems with returning security deposit, rent a place that in a short sale or pre auction, etc.
Web Reference:
0 votes
John Arendsen, Agent, Leucadia, CA
Fri Mar 9, 2012
All the answers are spot on and deserve a thumbs up. If I was the one who could award a best answer I'd have to give everyone who answered one. Sorry your daughter got ripped off and I hope you don't in anyway hold Trulia or any of it's contributing members responsible.

The one thing I have observed during the years I've been participating and contributing on this forum is the advice and answers on this very subject contributed by so many very astute real estate professionals. Everytime and anytime I've ever heard this subject come up there have always been so many answers advising against and warning consumers to be wary of the many scams that exist online today.

I know it's a lttle to late for your daughter but as so many of us have always advised NEVER, NEVER, NEVER pay out any money up front. Especially online. If you do you might as well kiss it goodbye. Additionally, even if you meet a perspective landlord eyeball to eyeball you need to make sure the person you are dealing with is the owner or the current property manager of the property you want to rent.

Lastly let me share my most recent story about rental scams. I just heard about an apartment manager who knew she was going to be fired by the property management company she was working for. When she found out her days were numbered she began pocketing the deposits from applicants and cash monthly payments from tenants to the tune of a few thousand dollars. She has since disappeared and left the property management company and a whole lot of applicants hanging.
0 votes
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