Con artists target renters using Zillow, Craigslist

Realtors seeing spike in scams

AURORA, CO - For Shannon McBrayer, the only thing worse than packing to move has been finding the right place.

"I'm looking to move immediately," McBrayer said, "but trying to find something in my price range in a good neighborhood, with good schools for my kids is very tough."
So, when she came across the perfect Aurora rental on Zillow for only $800 per month, it seemed too good to be true. 
And it was.
"I've gotten probably eight different calls from people who came out here to look at it and saw my sign," said Jennifer Oldham, a realtor with Coldwell Banker.
She said the house was not for rent, it was for sale, and it is under contract.
A scammer has been posting her photos from the original listing, using Zillow, Craiglist and Trulia, claiming he is in Atalanta and can't show the home.
"But he tells them, 'fill out this rental application and send the security deposit and I will send you the keys,'" said Oldham. "Fortunately, they called me and said is this house for sale or is it for rent? And I said it’s absolutely not for rent."
It's becoming more and more common. We found one Aurora home for sale that now has a sign on the front door warning potential victims that the house is not for rent -- it's a scam.
"Number one: Know who you're renting from," said Greg Bacheller, the co-owner of Real Property Management Colorado.
He said renters should always meet the property manager in person at the house and check the county assessor's website to verify who the owner is.
Also, ask questions such as "who is your plumber?" and "do you have a lead paint disclosure." 
Legitimate property managers will have this information and be willing to give it to you.
And if the price looks far below market value, buyer beware.
 "If it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true," said Bachellor.
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