Ada County warns of property rental scam

newsroom@idahostatesman.comMarch 20, 2014 

The Ada County Assessor’s Office is warning citizens of a property rental scam targeting prospective renters. The scam involves people posing as homeowners and attempting to collect rental deposits for homes they do not own.

According to the Assessor's Office scammers are finding local properties listed for sale, seeking out the real owner’s name, and listing the home for rent on various websites while posing as the owner. The phony rental ads claim the “owner” had a home listed for sale through a realtor, but that they have since decided to post the home for rent on their own. When these ads are responded to, scammers then send a rental application to scam targets to obtain personal information, and ask that deposit money be sent either directly or through an attorney, before the renter can obtain the keys and access the property. No attorney name or local contact information is given; however, the scam can appear legitimate since a fake e-mail address containing the real property owner’s name is often used.

“This is one of the most clever scams I’ve ever seen,” said Ada County Assessor Bob McQuade in a press release. “My office has received many phone calls from individuals wanting to confirm the legal owner of a specific home, however, since the actual owner’s name is used, this scam appears very legitimate. We want to be sure people are aware this scam is out there, so they can keep themselves from falling victim.”

Being pressured to send deposit money out-of-state and prior to physically entering a home are huge red flags. If faced with a similar situation, rental-seekers are cautioned to be sure a legitimate local contact person is available, and that they have the ability to access and view the home before providing any deposit or rent money.

If you want to know who legally owns a property or have questions about this scam, contact the Ada County Assessor’s office at 287-7200.

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