How To Avoid Rental Property Scams
TULSA, Oklahoma - A common rental property scam is making the rounds again in Green Country.
Victims think they’re renting a house, they wire the money, but, never receive a key. They eventually realize, the person they’re dealing with, doesn't own the house and had no right to rent it, but by then, it’s too late.
A woman from Texas needed to move to Tulsa pretty quickly so she jumped on Craig's list and found a cute house for rent. She thought it was a good deal, but, it turned out the deal was too good to be true.
The ad on Craig's list showed pictures of the house and said it was available for $600 a month, all bills included.
The woman contacted the "Mr. Heitman" on the ad and thought he was just great.
"He's really a great guy, he sent me pictures of his family, he's a missionary and he's going to have me wire the money and then mail me the keys,” the woman told Heitman Properties.
The rental house belongs to Heitman Properties, but, they never posted it on Craig's list, they never ask anyone to wire money and they were asking $800 a month plus bills and the owner is not a missionary. The scammer had simply stolen the pictures off the real site and posted them as his own.
"It was a complete duplicate. It looked exactly like our post," said Neva Heitman.
Luckily, the woman called the real Heitman properties before sending her money and they prevented her from getting cheated. Then, Heitman Properties contacted the fake Mr. Heitman to set up a meeting, but, of course, he's not local. When they told him, people were actually living in the home already, he claimed they were just moving out his stuff.
"We said, no sir, we own the property and you need to take that down and he just hung up," said Neva.
Beware if the prices are deeply discounted. Never wire money and take the time to check the county assessor's website to see if the person renting it, actually owns it.
"Meet somebody at the office and exchange money and get the key," said Tulsa Police Financial Crimes Det. Matt Rose.
Just taking a few extra steps and taking a little extra time to make sure you're dealing with someone legit, could save you a lot of heartache and a lot of money.