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Rental Scam Prompts Warning From C3I, Cumberland Police

August 6th, 2015 by WCBC Radio

The Cumberland City Police Department and Combined County Criminal Investigative Unit (C3I Unit) are warning residents to beware of rental property scams in which prospective tenants are asked to wire money without ever stepping foot in the home or apartment they wish to lease.

Nationwide, there has been an increase in the number of rental property scams posted on websites, such as Craigslist and Zillow.  This past week, a listing on Craiglist targeted a residence in the City of Cumberland.  Fortunately, no one has been identified as falling for this scam in Cumberland.  The listing for the Cumberland residence in question has been removed from Craiglist.

The scams will advertise property for rent in Cumberland or other parts of the United States at unusually low prices. House and Apartment hunters will be told by a person via email that the person renting the property is overseas or away from the property and has to conduct the rental process remotely.

Once a prospective tenant fills out a rental application, the suspects will ask the individual to wire rent via Western Union or MoneyGram and they will then receive a key to the property via FedEx or UPS. The unsuspecting renter will never receive the key and loses the money that they wire.

The properties featured in the schemes are usually properties that are for sale and their photos have been taken from a real estate website. Police said the majority of the scams are being conducted by scammers living outside of the United States and are similar to other scams that are prevalent online.

It is recommended that anyone looking for rental property in Cumberland or surrounding areas to meet with the property owner or rental agent and insist on having inside access to the property before agreeing to rent it. It is also advised that home and apartment hunters to think twice before wiring money via Western Union or MoneyGram.



The Better Business Bureau web site advises renters of the following red flags to look out for when deciding to rent a home or an apartment:

 The deal sounds too good to be true. Scammers often list a rental for a low price to lure in victims. Find out how comparable listings are priced, and if the rental comes in suspiciously low, walk away.

• The landlord is located elsewhere and prefers to communicate via e-mail. Scammers might say they have just been relocated out of the country for a job or missionary work – don’t believe it.

• The landlord requires a substantial deposit. Don’t pay any money before inspecting the home, inside and out.

• The landlord asks the renter to wire money. Money sent via wire transfer service is very difficult to retrieve and once the scammers have picked it up, there is little recourse. Your money is gone forever.

Anyone that feels they were a victim to a similar in nature crime is asked to call the Cumberland City Police Department at 301-777-1600 or their local law enforcement agency.   

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