Columbia housing crisis scam warning
The Better Business Bureau said scammers are targeting renters posting homes on Facebook and Craig’s List.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — As many search for affordable rentals in what officials have called a ‘housing crisis,’ those renters will need to keep an eye out for scammers.
According to the Better Business Bureau, the types of scams can be commonly found on Facebook, in community groups, or on Craig’s List.
In Columbia, real estate agents are noticing that many scam ads are taken directly from their websites.
Olivia Cooley with Olivia Cooley Real Estate said she has first-hand experience with scammers taking listings off of her website.
“And so we’ve had had many instances where we listed a property for sale, and then we start getting calls into our office because consumers looking to rent a property have seen the homes on Craig’s List or something like that,” Cooley said.
In Lexington Wendy Weeden. with Exit Real Estate Consultants, said she experienced something similar.
When the renters called about the property it was too late because they already put money down with the scammers.
Weeden said there are red flags to look out for when coming across rental property listings online.
Prices that are too good to be true like a listing on Facebook and the lister is looking for money before allowing you to view the home.
“Well these people are just seeking a deposit and they’re not sending any paperwork they’re not meeting the people at the property and they’re just asking for people to send the money through the mail,” Weeden said.
Another red flag to look out for is the type of payment the person is asking for. Chris Hadley with the Better Business Bureau said once you make a payment there’s little chance of getting it back.
“If you work with a scam artist and you pay with either a cash app or you send them a gift card or an iTunes card, you know once that money leaves your hands that money’s gone and you’re never gonna get that money back. If you don’t know who you’re doing business with no one is going to be able to help you at the end of the day,” Hadley said.
To avoid getting scammed, Hadley said it’s important to verify the seller and see the property in person.
“And this is something we preach here is that any good business, any legitimate company they’re going to give you all the information that you need upfront so that you can make a good buying decision,” Hadley said.
The Better Business Bureau said the best way to ensure the listing is legitimate is to call their offices to verify the license to sell.