On Tuesday, April 5, 2022, at about 2:00 pm, Prescott Valley Police Department was notified of a rental scam. The victim reported he found a home to rent online. He reviewed all the online information and decided the home was a perfect fit for his needs.
The rental appeared to be a great deal at a great price. He put down a $1900 deposit via a wire transfer. After sending the money, he drove by the home and saw a family moving into the same home. At that moment he knew he had been scammed.
Recently, there have been other reports of rental scams in the Prescott Valley area. As prices increase and more people move to our area, residents should be aware that these frauds may increase due to the demand for reasonably priced housing. At the recent presentation by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office at the VFW Post 10227, the presenter emphasized, “If it is too good to be true, it probably is.”
The Federal Trade Commission offers the following tips to avoid a rental scam:
- Do an online search of the rental company. Enter its name plus words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” If you find bad reviews, you may want to look elsewhere.
- Got a good vibe? Rental home listings may appear in several places, including rental company websites and online listing services like Zillow, Trulia, or Craigslist. If you see a rental company’s listing on one of those online listing services, do a search of the home’s address to make sure it appears on the rental company’s website. If it doesn’t, it may be a scam.
- Compare prices. Is the rent a lot less than comparable rentals? That could be a red flag.
- Take a tour. Ask for identification. Rental agents should have photo ID badges issued by the company that owns or manages the property.
- Nothing sketchy yet? Apply through the rental company, licensed real estate professional, or listings website.
- Before you sign a lease, look for signs at the rental with the name of the property owner or manager. Call that company before making a deal with anyone.
- Never pay with cash, wire transfers or gift cards. If anyone tells you to pay this way, it’s a sure sign of a scam. Wiring money is like sending cash — once you send it, you have no way to get it back. As for gift cards, they’re for gifts, NOT for payments.
The Federal Trade Commission reports that billions of dollars are lost every year to scams in all sorts of forms. You can get more information on scams and frauds by visiting the Federal Trade Commission website and subscribing to Consumer Alerts.
Prescott Valley Police Department can be contacted at (928) 772-9267 for non-emergencies, 911 for emergencies. Yavapai Silent witness is 1-800-932-3232. IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING!