Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station officials issued a warning to residents Wednesday about a rise in rental and real estate scams in Santa Clarita.
Rental scammers commonly list ‘fake’ properties online at a low price, collect cash and personal information and disappear before the victim discovers they were given a fake listing on a property that doesn’t actually belong to them, according to a Sheriff’s Station Nixle news release.
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“The Santa Clarita Valley rental scams that Crime Prevention Unit deputies are seeing come in several variations, but they typically follow the same basic code,” the Nixle release said. “A con artist finds a property, pretends to be the owner or renter or listing agent, lists the property online, then communicates with the would-be renter (the victim) and takes a cash deposit and/or personal information, often times used for identity theft.”
The money rental scammers collect from victims is usually first and last month’s rent, plus additional fees, officials said.
Sheriff’s Station officials offered the following advice to residents to avoid being victimized:
Only deal with landlords, renters or property managers who are local
Be suspicious if asked to only use a wire transfer service, especially to wire money upfront
Beware of email correspondence from the “landlord” that’s written in poor or broken English, especially emails that begin with “Sir” or “Madam” and have excessive capitalization
Research the average rental rates in that specific area and be suspicious if the rate is significantly lower
Ask yourself why the owner is so eager to have you; legitimate property owners and managers take the time to ask questions and screen potential tenants
Collect documents; ask for copies of everything, including checks, money orders, the application, receipts, the lease, etc.
“Go with your gut;” if the rental looks too good to be true, it probably is
The Nixle release was issued in an effort to raise awareness about real estate scams in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Nixle is a Community Information Service that allows police departments, county emergency management offices, municipal governments and their agencies to issue notifications to their communities, according to their website.
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