How to Deal With Being the Victim of a House Rent Scam (Real Examples)
Mary Thai was looking for a house for rent in Houston and found one which she liked. It was three bedrooms with an upgraded steel kitchen, close to work. They went with the agent who presumably had the property and signed the deal and the lease agreement.
She gave the agent $1,400 in cash and he gave her a keys. The he said the remote did not work and come back with it. She and her husband did not see him again. The real broker told her that she had been swindled and the house was for sale and not for rent.
The house had been listed on craiglist. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is investigating Thai’s case.
Sharon Smith was flabbergasted when she discovered her Cleveland home listed as a rental on Craigslist.com, part of an apparent scam. She wanted to sell the house not rent it out.
Her realtor received a call from a woman who responded to the online ad. The woman said she got an e-mail back from a ‘Dr. Jack Fred,’ who said he had just got a job in Nigeria but would send keys if she wired him a $600 deposit.
The renter decided to drive by the place first, and when she saw the ‘for sale’ sign in the yard, she called the realtor, who alerted Smith. The scammer had put up pictures of the actual house for sale.
Michelle Adame, 33, met Paul Bakovich, 36, after seeing a Craigslist ad for a three-bedroom rental house on one acre in Redmond for $885 per month. Bakovich was ostensibly giving it cheaply because he had been unable to sell it and was taking it off the market.
She and her boy friend loved the house and when Bakovich called to say he needed an immediate deposit because other people were interested, the couple scraped up $900 toward the total $2,170 that Bakovich wanted for first and last month’s rent and a $400 deposit. When friends questioned how it was possible to get a house so cheap, she googled Bakovich’s e-mail address into Google. She found a number of sites with the words ‘Beware of Paul Bakovich’.
As she had set up a meeting with Bakovich to get the keys, she met him along with the sheriff and he was arrested. Apparently Bakovich had run the scam many times and made a lot of money.
Monique Witteveen and Sidney Paine lined up jobs in Winnipeg while still living in Ontario, and began looking for a house. They found one in the classifieds website Kijiji Canada. After several e-mail exchanges with the landlord, they wired the rent money to seal the deal.
‘It was $700, all-inclusive, furnished and three bedrooms. It was just the perfect deal,’ said Witteveen. The couple sold all of their belongings in Ontario and moved, but when they went to the house, somebody else had rented it from the actual owner was living there. The police said they could do nothing about it as the money had been wired and the scammer who got the money could be anywhere in the world.
A South Florida teacher (who does not wish to be identified) lost a $3,000 cash deposit he put down on a rental property when it the supposed owner turned out to be a con artist. He had seen a listing on Craigslist.com advertising a home with four bedrooms, three bathrooms and a three-car garage for $1,500 per month.
The alleged scammer said his name was Luis Torres, and he told renters he owned a home in the 5000 block of Southwest 163rd Court. Torres showed the house, the plans and had a key. He also had a copy of a warranty deed to the house, but it turned out it was fake. Apparently Torres has cheated many other people with the same modus operandi.
‘I realized something was wrong when a couple of days after I left the deposit, I called and he wouldn’t pick up,’ the alleged victim said. ‘I called again, and he wouldn’t pick up.’ Eventually, the phone was disconnected.
Jermaine Jackson couldn’t believe it when he went to check on his property in North Las Vegas a few months ago.
‘I was getting ready to ring the doorbell, and this guy opened the door,’ says Jackson. ‘I said who are you, he said I’m renting this house. I said I’m the owner of this house, and I didn’t rent anything out to you.’
North Las Vegas police tell say that Eric Alpert started a company called Diddie Limited and rented out multiple homes that weren’t his. The law finally caught up with him and he was arrested.