COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The Better Business Bureau is warning of a scam targeting potential renters.
Scammers are stealing home advertisement and re-listing for cheaper but believable prices.
"We had 1700 square foot home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. It was posted for rent online for $700 with utilities and everything at about $200 less than homes in the area," said Todd Andrae of Coldwell Banker Real Estate in Columbus.
Agents at Coldwell Banker say they are dealing with this kind of scam on their properties more than ever. The advertisements are reportedly becoming more frequent and more believable.
Andrae says this particular scam was traced back to the Philippines.
"Our agent started getting calls from people who attempted to contact owners and rent the property sight unseen. That's when our agent kind of intervened, saying no. The homeowner is not working on an oil rig in Texas or any of the lies he's been telling you," said Andrae.
This is how the scam works: Scammers find homes, copy the "for sale" advertisements and re-list the property with all new contact information. The advertisements promoted are on sites like Craiglist, and Facebook.
Scammers eventually ask the clueless victims to wire money for a deposit.
The Better Business Bureau is warning of the red flags when it comes to this kind of scam.
"If it seems to good to be true, it probably is too good to be true," said Dawna Snyder, director of business services with the Better Business Bureau.
Snyder says to watch out for buzz words like, "utilities included" and "first month, rent free."
"They'll ask you for money via wire and Western Union. It's a big red flag if they can never show you the property. You need to be on site, you need to see the property. Those are things you need to look out for," said Snyder.
Snyder says in a world full of online steals and deals, thorough research will be your best friend.
You can visit the Better Business Bureau's website here for more ways to stay updated on scams.