TRINIDAD, COLO. — Finding a place to rent can be stressful and expensive with the start up costs. So, the last thing you want to do is pay somebody and never see the keys to your new place. News5 has the warning signs.
Imagine paying someone money upfront to start the process of moving into what you think is a legitimate rental, just to find out it was all a set up. News5 visited with a family in Trinidad who says that’s exactly what happened to them.
Mandi Chavez reached out to News5 because her 22-year-old son Robert learned the hard way how difficult searching for housing can be.
He says it all started when he began looking for a place to rent on Facebook and got a response.
”I dropped down my zip code and then she responded quickly with a house,” Robert said.
Impressed by the pictures, Robert expressed interest and the person told him through Facebook messenger he needed to pay fees and start up costs through cash app to secure the rental.
”Honestly I was thinking about, if I don’t get this to her will I honestly have a place to go to? Will I have the keys,” said Robert.
After the first $50 payment, he realized something was off.
”I didn’t have a walk through,” said Robert. “I honestly paid the money and I was like that doesn’t seem right.”
So when he pulled back from making another payment, the person offering him the rental opportunity through Facebook got more aggressive.
”She kept messaging me saying I’m waiting, are you going to pay me? I’m waiting, I have another person,” said Robert.
It prompted him to do more research and he says he made a frustrating discovery.
”That same house was exactly the same house on Zillow.” said Robert. ”But it was a different person. It was from a real real estate agent and the rent was a whole different amount.”
Robert and his mom reported this experience as a scam to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office and wanted to get the word out to help save others the headache.
”I thought the community needs to know and people need to be aware and this generation needs to be aware that you can’t trust everything on social media,” said Chavez, Robert’s mom.
”There are people who aren’t so they say they are and you have to look out for those people,” said Robert.
In general rental scams are a major problem right now, so here some consumer red flags you should be on the lookout for in these situations:
Fraudsters often ask for large payments through cash apps
They’ll usually say they need money upfront before signing a lease
They can’t meet in person or give a tour of the property
And often they’ll say it’s because they claim to be out of the country
If you have a consumer issue we should know about, send us an email or reach out to us through our News5 Investigates tip-line or anytime at KOAA.com.
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