It has become more difficult to determine which listings for rentals are real and which are fraudulent. That’s because some people have taken to promoting homes that are not theirs for rent with the goal of having others pay a deposit. After that deposit is paid, the person who offers the home disappears with that money.
It’s possible for an unsuspecting realtor or person who has been offered a kickback for helping lease out the property could be accused of fraud and theft for promoting these properties, even if they weren’t aware that the original listing was falsified. If that happens to you, then you need to be prepared to defend yourself against allegations of internet fraud or real estate fraud.
Millions of people are affected by property and rental scams
Over five million people have lost money to rental scams, according to the Better Business Bureau. False listings may include photos and descriptions of properties that were previously for sale or that are currently for rent but not in the same area. They ask for a deposit and the first month’s rent without ever allowing the victim to see the property.
They may also turn to others online to help them promote those listings. This is where you can get into trouble if you think you’re doing a job for a commission but are really promoting a scam. For example, if they ask you to share their property and offer a 10% commission to anyone who helps them get a deposit, you may end up with funds that were based on a lie. Now, you’re part of the equation and could end up facing charges.
If you are accused of a white collar crime like rental fraud because of your participation in a scam like this, it’s important for you to defend yourself. This is a federal crime and could lead to serious penalties such as fines and imprisonment.
To help prevent this from happening to you, don’t offer to share information about listings unless you’ve verified the owner and seen the property in person. This will help you avoid getting caught up in a scam.