New Rental Scam In Our Area (VIDEO)

By Corinne Rose - 21Alive

October 28, 2013 Updated Oct 29, 2013 at 10:03 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) -- You've heard the phrase "buyer beware," but what about "renter beware"?

There is a scam that keeps surfacing in our area, and it's something you need to know about.

A recent ad on Craigslist listed a property on Crescent Avenue for rent.

The person claiming to be the owner supposedly lived in New York and said the keys would be provided once he received a deposit.

But we tracked down the true owner of the home who's already rented out the place.

He says his tenants almost fell for the scam.

And the better business bureau says if you do, you're out of luck.

“The thing that prevented them from doing it is they did a walk around the house initially, and they saw my lockbox on the door. And they knew the key was in the lockbox and so they said, 'Well, if the key's there, why would we pay $500 to get the key?' So they knew they were being scammed. But if it wasn't for that, they would have sent that money in, they told me,” says property owner Jeff Vaughan.

“It's gone forever. You're not going to find it. If you've done a wire transfer, a money pack or anything like that, there's no way to get that money back. And that is the one thing that people, you know, are very, very sorry to hear after they've done it, but there's just no recourse,” adds Marjorie Stephens of the Better Business Bureau.

Vaughan says the best thing you can do is check the property records with the assessor's office or website to make sure you know who actually owns the home.

He says you should also insist on meeting someone in person at the property to be shown around.

Marjorie Stephens says before renting or buying anything, you can call the Better Business Bureau office to see if the owners have any complaints lodged against them.

People there can help you decide what might be a good fit for you.

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