Soon to be renters beware.
Full Sail Realty in Panama City is finding fake ads for the properties it manages. The scammers are using the real ones to con people looking for places to live.
Owner Lisa Felix said the scammers are duplicating them, including copying photos and rental descriptions, then putting a much lower, more attractive monthly rental price on the home.
“They’re telling you things to incite urgency, like first come, first serve. Once you send me your security deposit, I’ll send you a key in the mail with a lease,” Felix explained.
However, the key the potential renter receives rarely works leaving the victim out hundreds of dollars and still without a place to live.
Felix said most scammers are likely working from out of town, but a recent case, leads her to believe some may be local.
“We had some people ready to move into a home on October 1st, and they pulled up in their moving truck and unfortunately someone had already been living there for four days,” she said.
Felix said the scammer in this case broke into the lock box, stole the key, and sent it to the victims after they’d paid a deposit, rent, and signed a fake lease. In this case, she was able to help those victims move into another rental, but if victims don’t want to move out, she has to go through a formal eviction process, which can be costly.
“I’ve heard it from everyone. It’s, unfortunately, something that everyone is dealing with right now and you just have to stay on your toes,” Felix said.
She added if you’re looking for a place to rent, use reputable realty companies or at least insist the landlord show you the home in person before signing any paperwork or making any payments.