SSFPD Media Release: Beware of Rental Scams

South San Francisco, CA    June 11, 2019  Submitted by SSFPD

The South San Francisco Police Department recently investigated a rental scam on the 300 block of Valencia Drive. The victims responded to a “cloned” online ad which listed a real home for rent at a lower than average rental rate. The property was in fact on the market as a rental through a real estate company, but at a higher rate. The victims never met the “landlord” in person and communicated with him via text message only. The victims were convinced to wire several thousand dollars to the suspect for rent and the security deposit, and they moved in after the suspect contacted a locksmith and had the locks changed. This morning, the realtor arrived and discovered the victims had moved in. It was confirmed the victims had been scammed and they had to vacate the property.

The following tips can help prevent you from becoming a victim:
• Review your contract thoroughly and have a friend or family member view it as well.
• Go to the address. Schedule a viewing and confirm that the property exists.
• Arrange to meet the landlord/ realtor in person.

Also, please consider the following:
• Have you asked questions that they are avoiding?
• Are you asked to transfer money through the internet or wire money out of the country?
• Is there an urgency or pressure to get the deal done quickly?
• Is the deal too good to be true? Is the rental rate much lower than surrounding properties?

If the answer is “yes” to the above questions, those could be red flags that the rental listing is in fact a scam.

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