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Watch out for fake online house rental ads

Posted at 12:55 PM, Nov 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-29 13:55:09-05

BARTLESVILLE — Allison Leathers is on the hunt for a rental house in Bartlesville. To help her find the perfect place she’s swiping through online apps.

One ad on Letgo caught her eye.

“There was a home that was listed on there for $700 a month, three bedrooms,” she said, “two living areas with a fireplace this huge open kitchen."

The price seemed low, but she decided to contact the person who posted it. She claims he emailed her a contract to fill out and told her she could only look at the house through its windows.

Allison said when she asked why he was renting the property he answered, that he moved to California where his wife was getting treatment for cancer.

She visited the house and saw a big for sale sign in the middle of the yard. She told 2 Works for You that made her uncomfortable, so she called Shelley Koster, the real estate agent listed on the sign, to get more information.

“She asked me, is this home for rent?" Koster said. “And if so, was it for rent for $700, including all bills, and I said absolutely not.”

Koster also let Allison know not only is this property not for rent, it’s not owned by someone who moved to California. It belongs to a local property investor who regularly works with Koster.

She also let Allison know she almost fell for a common rental house scheme where someone uses fake listings to entice people into sending money and revealing personal information.

“It's unfortunate," Koster said. “But it happens even here in rural Oklahoma.”

To protect yourself when hunting for a rental house on-line:

  • Never send personal information or money before verifying who owns the property. You can do that by looking through county records or contacting a real estate agent.
  • If you find a suspicious ad, report it to the app, so it can take down fake posts. Allison reported this ad to Letgo.
  • If you do send money, or provide personal information, then discover you were tricked, report it to the app and to police.

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