Police Warn of Internet Housing Scam - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Police Warn of Internet Housing Scam

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Ochs filled out a rental application for a 2,094 square-foot home on the the Somersett Golf Course for $750 a month. She found the listing on zillow.com.

"There were a couple of red flags because there were a couple of misspelled words in it and $750 for a Somersett home is a little unbelievable," Ochs said.

The house is for rent, but for $1,960 per month.

"I got another email saying congratulations," Ochs said. "All you need to do is to wire us the first month's rent and deposit."

The scammers went by Mr. and Mrs. Davis, who claimed to live in California. But they asked her to wire the money to Tennessee. Ochs immediately knew it was a scam, but only after she filled out the application that included her husband's driver's license number. She fears that could lead to identity theft.

"I wanted it to be such a good deal and I think that that is the only reason I pursued it just one step too far," Ochs said.

Joe Heider is the property manager of a nearby house, which was used for the same scam.

"I have had several people call me and review my price with their's and I'll let them know that they're being scammed, but it's still out there," Heider said.

Heider says these criminals have very different communication levels, compared with someone that deals with housing rentals, professionally.  

"They are very aloof about everything that they do," Heider said. "Phone numbers, names, trying to call back and talk with them."

We called the number of that fake listing,  that went to voicemail. The owners supposedly live in Pennsylvania and have a Chicago area code. Unfortunately, these scammers are hard to catch.

"Even though it might be Pennsylvania with a Chicago phone number, that could be a ghost line for some place in Russia or Germany, something like that," Officer Tim Broadway, Reno Police Department Public Information Officer said.

Broadway says these scams continue to grow as criminals adapt to technology. He says to do your research and listen to your instincts.

"If the offer looks too good to be true, most likely, it is," Broadway said.

Broadway says never give someone money or personal information unless you know for sure that it's legitimate. It's important to ask questions, call them and ask for references or ask to speak to the supervisor.

"Generally, once you start asking questions like 'Who are you affiliated with? What is your business rating?' Most people will get kind of scared and they'll hang up the phone on you."

Ochs did fill out a police report, but since no money changed hands, it's not considered a crime. However, it is on record.
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