Renters beware: Rental rip-off hitting the metro

TONGANOXIE, Kan. - Tonganoxie police are warning residents of a growing scam where people are losing money to chase deals that are too good to be true. 

Here's how it works: scammers are using websites to find information on actual homes for sale. They post the information to websites, like Craigslist, offering the home for rent well below market rates. Once potential renters wire money, they are left without a place to live. 

The ads are "really convincing. They have convincing email addresses, they do provide phone numbers," said Lt. Jarrod Gill of the Tonganoxie Police Department. 

It's a scam realtors like Dan Lynch have had to deal with for years. 

"It's ramping up now because a lot of people need a place to rent because the housing market is so hot. People are selling their homes really quick and need a place to stay," said Lynch, who owns Lynch Real Estate in Tonganoxie. 

To avoid this rental rip-off: 

  • Go through a professional real estate agent 
  • Look out for advertisements that require you to wire money 
  • Beware of advertisements that list deals too good to be true 

"I do think it's a matter of time before we have someone in our community fall for it," said Gill. 

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Ariel Rothfield can be reached at Ariel.Rothfield@KSHB.com.

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