Lake Worth Beach woman calls Contact 5 after nearly falling victim to rental scam
Earlier this week, WPTV told you about a warning from Attorney General Ashley Moody about an increase in vacation rental scams during the summer months. A viewer who saw our story is called Contact 5 because she almost fell for an alleged rental scam the day before.
“I saw your story and said wow, I wonder if they want to go ahead with a real live scam,” Kyle Cohen, who lives in Lake Worth Beach, told WPTV.
That’s why she called Contact 5, after thinking she had found her dream home in West Palm Beach on Facebook Marketplace.
“I was pretty sure it was too good to be true, but it was a two-bedroom apartment for $800 a month,” Cohen said.
The alleged owner sent Cohen several photos showing a brand new, modern home.
“The footage was absolutely stunning,” Cohen said.
The alleged landlord wouldn’t give him the address and told him in an email: “You have to pay the first month’s rent and the security deposit to Airbnb. If you don’t like the property, the Airbnb agents will refund your money on the spot.”
However, Airbnb cautions consumers against this type of correspondence, when doing business outside of the Airbnb site.
A company representative told us in an email, “We often see this when scammers launch ‘Airbnb’ because we’re a trusted platform and they feel like mentioning our name makes them feel good. But the reality is that it’s not an Airbnb reservation, unless you’re booking on Airbnb.com or the Airbnb app, in which case we handle all payments (deterring scams). we don’t do ‘invoices’ or security deposits, nor do we have agents on the ground as this guy says.”
“She wants my information but she was hesitant to even give me the address of the place. So I was like with my information, she could wipe me out,” Cohen said.
These are all warning signs of a rental scam, according to a new alert from Attorney General Ashley Moody.
“Fake advertisements for rental properties are all over the internet,” Moody said.
Moody’s office says consumers should check if photos of the rental property are affiliated with other listings by using a reverse image search. Use a reputable website that offers fraud protection. And if the owner only gives you a foreign email address or phone number, that’s a big red flag.
“If someone offers you something, ask them to prove to you that they own the place. If it’s legit, they’ll have a way to show you proof of ownership,” Cohen said.
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