Beware of Online Home Rental Scams

Beware of Online Home Rental Scams

Online rental scams cost Virginia victims thousands.

 Investigators in Northern Virginia are warning tonight: If you're searching online for a place to live, beware of scammers.

The rental scam primarily uses Facebook Marketplace.

So far this year, investigators said seven victims have been reported in Loudoun County, with losses ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

"The market is tough, and people see an ad and think, 'I better get something quick before someone else gets it,' and that's an incentive for bad people to do this particular scam," Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman said.

In the latest case reported over the weekend, a man sent money to someone claiming to have a house to rent in Sterling.

Once he sent the deposit, he went to view the property, but the people already living there told him it was not rentable.

That's when he realized he had been scammed out of a thousand dollars.

Investigators said scammers used a home in Sterling to scam three separate people.

"These scams are difficult because they go through so many avenues to get your money, making it very difficult for us to recover it. It's almost impossible to recover it," Detective Chapman stated. "Hopefully, if you get caught quickly, you can notify your bank and maybe get that money back, but generally, it's difficult."

Here are some tips for looking online for a place to live: Don't send money without seeing the place or the owner in person. Many scammers communicate only through text messages.

You can also use county records, Zillow, or Redfin to look up a property's address and owner information to determine its legitimacy.

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