Another critical reason to use a Realtor because, unfortunately, they are people like this out there. People who try to scam people who do not know better. A little backstory, so I am helping a client of mine find a rental, and I see a property that matches what he is looking for, so I reach out online to get more info. A day later, I get a message from this "Mr. Mathews," aka the scammer. Who tells me he will rent out the home for $950 a month, which is red flag number one because, for the home and area, $950 was an unbelievable price. I did a little deep diving on "Mr. Mathews" and the address he gave me. Only to find out the address is actually owned by a large real estate property management company and not ever owned by a Mr. Mathews. Since I now knew who owned the property, I wanted this guy to dig a hole for himself. I did this by asking him if he knew some fictitious neighbors. Hoping we would lie about that truly exposing himself for the scammer he is. Instead, he just ignored my questions about the neighbors, which was another red flag, and he continued with his scam. I ultimately stopped talking to this guy once I knew he wasn't going to answer my question about the neighbors. However, I hope if anyone takes anything away from this its the following:
1. Use a Realtor. We are professionals at what we do, and it's our job to find an excellent place for you and make sure you never have to interact with potential scammers like this
2. If something is too good to be true, it probably is. If this scammer didn't try hooking me in with a rent price way below the average in the area. I wouldn't have caught on so quickly.
3. Be especially careful nowadays with what's going in the world now since people are moving into homes without actually checking them out because of COVID. Make you are doing your HW, and everything is legit.
This scammer's ultimate goal was to get me or the tenant to send him the deposit and the first month's rent to the scammer and any other fees he could throw in there. People who fall for these scams end up sending all this money in hopes of landing a sweet place to rent out. Only to later find out they have no interest in that property, and sometimes the actual property is already occupied or is vacant. I hope this provided some value to you, and I hope that you stay safe and well out there!
**Edit** Kevin and Amber Cleveland are fake names I gave him to continue the conversation in hopes of catching him in his lie.
Here is a link more in-depth on how to spot rental scams.