Rental and actual property scams on the rise

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The FBI warns Boston residents of a rise in rental and real estate fraud. As rents, home prices and inflation rise in today’s real estate market, the FBI said the public should be aware of the risk of rent fraud and exercise caution when posting and responding to rental properties and properties online. “We’ve seen a significant increase in the amount of money being lost by people desperate for a good deal,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, a special agent in charge at the FBI’s Boston branch. “Scammers are charging renters who have to act quickly for fear of missing out, and it’s costing consumers thousands of dollars and, in some cases, leaving them stranded.” the victim forwards the remaining balance or the check is drawn out for the correct amount, but the scammer backs out of the lease and demands a refund. Because banks don’t typically withhold the funds, the FBI said the victim had immediate access and believed the check was cashed. In the end, the check turns out to be fake and the victim is held liable by the bank for any losses. Another type of scam involves properties that are falsely advertised online. The FBI said the scammer duplicated postings from legitimate real estate websites and reposted those ads after altering them. The FBI said that in 2021, 11,578 people nationwide reported losing $350,328,166 due to this type of fraud — a 64% increase from the previous year. In Massachusetts there were 290 victims who lost $8,944,041 Target or victim of a rental scam, cut off all contact immediately and if you’ve already sent money, report any money transfer to your financial institution and file a complaint with the internet FBI Crime Complaint Center.

The FBI warns Boston residents of a rise in rental and real estate fraud.

As rents, home prices and inflation rise in today’s real estate market, the FBI said the public should be aware of the risk of rent fraud and exercise caution when posting and responding to rental properties and properties online.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in the amount of money being lost by people desperate for a good deal,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, the FBI’s Boston Branch special agent in charge of acting quickly for fear of missing out. and it’s costing consumers thousands of dollars and, in some cases, leaving them stranded.”

The FBI said rental fraud occurs when the victim has listed rental properties and is contacted by an interested party. Once the rental price is agreed, the scammer forwards a check to the victim for the rental property deposit, according to the FBI.

Problems arise when the scammer writes the housing expense check for the required amount, the FBI said. The scammer asks for the balance to be returned or the check is drawn out for the correct amount, but the scammer rescinds the rental agreement and demands a refund.

Because banks don’t typically withhold the funds, the FBI said the victim had immediate access and believed the check was cashed. In the end, the check turns out to be fake and the victim is held liable by the bank for any losses.

Another type of scam involves properties that are falsely advertised online. The FBI said the scammer duplicated postings from legitimate real estate websites and reposted those ads after altering them.

The FBI said that in 2021, 11,578 people nationwide reported losing $350,328,166 due to this type of fraud — a 64% increase from the previous year. In Massachusetts there were 290 victims who lost $8,944,041.

“We’re asking everyone to exercise caution, especially over the next few months as people try to book last-minute summer getaways,” Bonavolonta said.

The FBI said if you are the target or victim of a rental fraud, stop all contact immediately, and if you have already sent money, report any money transfer to your financial institution and file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.