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AN OLD SCAM TARGETS A NEW GROUP - Reluctant Landlords!


You have seen coming over the Internet before?  Into your email Inbox -yes?

Nigerian businessman seeking investors.  Well-known banks asking for account number or social security number verification, as well as your PIN.  All kinds of "get rich very quick" schemes.

Now an old scam involving cashing a big check is making its way to landlords here in IL, and around the world.   Experienced landlords may have seen scams like this before.  But for the dozens of "Reluctant Landlords" - those who are only renting out their condo or home because the weak Real Estate Market is making it difficult for them to sell outright - the caper seems fresh and new!

From Mary Umberger's Real Estate Column in today's Chicago Tribune, here is one example of how it plays, as told by a Chicago landlord who owns rental property in Downstate IL -

A prospective renter - usually one overseas - inquires about an apartment, often through a free classified site like  The interested landlord answers a few general questions about the property.  The tenant, feigning interest, sends a large check for First Month's Rent plus Security Deposit.  If the prospective landlord does not respond to the first request, the scammer follows up with a second, sometimes a third email.

The tenant has some sort of "distinguished" profession.  One that solicited me several months ago claimed to be a judge from the UK, visiting the U.S., and Chicago, for a short time, and needing only a six-month to one-year rental.

Shortly after the first check is received, and possibly deposited, the scammer sends a second check, perhaps for a thousand dollars or more.  The check is made out to the prospective landlord, and asks that the landlord first deposit the check as a down payment for some furniture to be delivered, and then draw a cashier's check or money order for the same amount to be forwarded to a second, local but out of state address, to pay the deposit for the items.

Of course, the rent, security deposit, and furniture deposit checks are all no good - but the drawn cashier's check IS.  The potential landlord is scammed out of perhaps several thousand dollars!

The news here isn't that this is happening.  It's that it is targeting perhaps many thousands of inexperienced landlords, beaten down by the lack of a sale on their home or condo, and anxious, or desperate, to rent the vacant property out - especially to someone who seems to have strong credentials.

Many, unfortunately, are falling for the scam!

Other scams, as described in Umberger's column, falsely use the names of the National Association of Realtors, or a high-profile local Real Estate Firm or Broker, as endorsers.  But their nefarious motive - still the same.

Be careful!


Posted: Sunday, March 29, 2009 8:38 PM by Dean's Team

Comments said:

Good Morning! An old scam is beginning to target a new group - "Reluctant Landlords." These

# March 29, 2009 9:44 PM
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