Elaborate Triangle rental scam includes seemingly legit in-person home tour

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The housing market is booming right now whether you're buying, selling, or renting, you need to be on guard.

Lack of inventory means quick decisions are being made so you don't lose out on the deal, but you also have to make sure you don't get scammed.

Local law enforcement warns unsuspecting renters are getting hit with a particularly dangerous scam.

"It could be quite dangerous if people aren't aware," Detective Christin Reimann with the Durham County Sheriff's Department said. Reimann is investigating several cases of rental fraud where scammers are stealing legit listings and posting the ads on Facebook Marketplace.

In some cases, Reimann said the scammers are local and will even meet potential renters.

"They've been to the house. They've got the lockbox numbers. They've gone in and gone through. They will meet them at the house or away from the house and give them the combination for the lockbox," Reinmann said.

Several ABC11 renters have lost thousands of dollars to this scam, a few even moved into the rental, before being kicked out by the legit rental company. A big red flag to watch out for is a rental or sale price too good to be true.

"If you do see the property in person, consider how much is the rent. Is it drastically cheaper than other places? Are they asking for a month payment upfront without ever seeing the property?" Catherine Honeycutt with the BBB of Eastern North Carolina said.

When it comes to payment, in the cases Detective Reimann is investigating, the scammers are asking for payment through Cash App. We've also had viewers lose money, by wiring money to scammers.

Before sending any money, take the time to research who you're dealing with. If there is a sign in the front yard, call that number as opposed to the person who is communicating with you online.
Copyright © 2021 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.