A realtor has a warning about overseas scam artists acting like landlords and trying to rip off potential renters.
The scammers are using real homes and real ads, just changing a few details.
Mike cummings is a realtor and owns TCArea.com. He rents out this home on State Street in Traverse City. He was taken by surprise Wednesday when someone called him and asked Cummings to show them the home, saying they had talked to the owner, who turned out to be a scam artist who had them on the hook.
"I was puzzled wondering what's going on here, through my investigation, i had found somebody had posted this ad on Craigslist," says Cummings.
The ad was exactly the same as Cummings. Same house listed, same details about it, but only $800 a month, $300 cheaper than Cummings' ad. Cummings told the person who called him it was a scam and did his own investigating. this is the email he got when he responded, from the "owner" Elizabeth McClelland who said she was in West Africa on business.
"To a person that is not aware and is desperate, they possibly could fall for it," says Cummings.
He filled out information and was told today they'd send the keys and he could move in next Tuesday if he sends money through a wire transfer,money he'd kiss goodbye.
Cummings says it's important to get the word out about the scam because of the lack with rentals in the Traverse City area. He says somebody could legitimately fall for it, and pay the security deposit, pay first month's rent, send it off to West Africa or wherever the scammer is, and then come home one day, find an eviction notice on their door, because they've been classified as squatting.
"Check out who owns the house, I mean look at tax records, hire a title company to do a title search, just to make sure it's legit, make sure the house isn't in foreclosure."
He says landlords will always do a check on potential tenants, and it is a good idea for tenants to do their own homework on a landlord.