Scam artists targeting homes for sale

WEST ASHLEY, SC (WCSC) - Scam artists are taking houses that are for sale and putting them online as rentals, hoping to rip people off.

The crooks last week tried to lure in a Lowcountry woman.

Deborah, who asked us to not show her face, answered an ad to rent a home on Baycreek Drive.

"At first I thought it was a real good deal. He was only asking for like $1,200 a month which included utilities," she said.

Deborah said the owner in e mails to her wrote the home was for rent because his company transferred him to Salem, Oregon, and that he didn't want to sell the house.

"Gave me a lot of information about the neighborhood, the house, what was to be included. Immediately he started asking for a deposit to be mailed to him which I didn't quite understand."

When Deborah went to look at the house from the outside, she saw a "for sale" sign.

"I decided to call Ms. Richard and asked her about the house and she said this house is not for rent, it is for sale," she said.

Georgia Richard is the real estate agent for the actual owner of the house.

"Apparently they are Internet savvy," Richard explained.

Richard said the scam artist apparently got the owner's name and information from the multiple listing service used by realtors and used that information for the phony rental ad.

"They collect all the information and came up with this scam," Richard said.

"The strange thing is that why would he call my phone because he can easily be tracked down, so he's not that smart," Deborah said.

We tried to call the apparent scam artist, but the call went straight to voice mail.

He couldn't dupe Deborah into giving him money. Most likely he's moved on to his next potential victim.

According to experts, you should never give your personal information when responding to an Internet ad.

If you suspect an ad is fake, contact your local FBI office.

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