COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline) - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine issued a consumer alert Friday after consumers throughout the state complained of losing money to rental property scams.
Since January, DeWine's office received more than a dozen reports of the scam. Victims of the scam report an average loss of approximately $1,000.
"We're heading into a busy season for home sales and rentals," DeWine said. "We want to warn Ohioans that some con artists are hijacking legitimate ads showing houses for sale, reposting them as houses for rent, and convincing consumers to send money for the deposit or first month's rent."
In the scam, a scam artist obtains the address and picture of a house that is posted for sale online and reposts it on another website claiming it is a house for rent. The rent is typically low and the scam artists may claim they needed to leave the country quickly.
The scammers tell potential renters that to secure the rental the renters must send hundreds or thousands of dollars, often via wire transfer. The scam artists take off with any money the renters send.
In a related scam, scammers take advantage of Ohio landlords and individuals who want to lease their property. In an overpayment ploy, a con artist pretends to be a potential tenant and sends the landlord a counterfeit check for more than the asking price of the rent or deposit. The scam artist asks the landlord to send back the difference. After the check is returned as counterfeit, any money the landlord sends will be lost.