Rental property scam reported in Tampa Bay: How to avoid becoming a victim

BBB warns about rental scams in Tampa
Posted at 10:19 PM, Oct 19, 2018

TAMPA, Fla. — Two local realtors with Coldwell Banker say someone pulled information off a property's for sale listing and used it for a fake ad online. 

"About three days ago, we got a call from a person who saw our listing on Craigslist advertised for rent," said Sean Murphy, a realtor with Coldwell Banker.

Murphy said the owners of the home located on West Cleveland Street listed the house for sale, not for rent.

The fake post online claims the home is available to rent for $1,650 a month.

"They took the same images. They take basically the same verbiage we have on MLS listing and put it right there with contact information and advertise rent," said Murphy. 

Murphy emailed the person who posted the ad. He said he couldn't show the house, but he's looking for renters as soon as possible.

"We reached out to the guy doing the solicitation and basically he responded saying he doesn't live here anymore, he lives up in Maine, he'll be there for five years now," said Murphy. 

The Florida Attorney General's Office suggest realtors report matters like this to the FBI. A spokesperson provided us with the following website to report it online.

The Better Business Bureau says it also keeps track of similar scams. Since February, the BBB has taken five reports of rental scams in the Bay Area. In one case, a victim lost $900. The person claimed to have a home for rent. The victim received a phony lease and was promised keys in the mail. 

Report scams to BBB Scam Tracker here.

"I'd like homeowners and people looking for rentals to be more aware of it, be cautious, double check things you see online," said Murphy.