Two Rental Scams Resulted In $6500 Loss To Victims
Housing scams are not new to Park City. The winter season puts a strain on the rental inventory available for employees who want to live and work in Summit County.
The most recent swindle resulted in two separate victims losing a combined $6500.
Summit County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Andrew Wright says two rental frauds happened with the suspects using the same address to scam two separate victims. A 30-year-old man found a property listed on Craig’s list located on Bob Sled Boulevard in the Bear Hollow Neighborhood. He signed a renter’s agreement electronically and wired $2200 for the first months rent, cleaning fee and security deposit.
"The suspect reached out to the victim and informed him that he would also need the last month’s rent prior to our complainant moving in and wired another $1100. He was supposed to move into this residence in Bear Hollow on December 14th. When he arrived at that listed address the person that he’d wired the money to, you know he thought was the landlord never showed up he attempted to contact this supposed home owner or landlord and all of his attempts were unsuccessful so after waiting a few hours he believed he had had been scammed and contacted our office to file a report.”
Wright says even with the victim providing the name of the suspect and the routing number, he’s not confident they will recover the money or find the alleged suspect because they often are not in the US.
“It’s so difficult for us to track down these people because they're using fake names and they’re able to mask their IP addresses.”
A 28-year-old Boston woman told the Sheriff’s Department she signed a two-month lease and paid $3200 and could not get a response back from the alleged landlord. Wright says scammers will go on to official websites and copy documents, details of the property and photos to make it look like they are the landlords of a legitimate property.
“The name she provided is the same as the prior case that we just talked about of the suspect. The same address on Bobsled. She told our deputy after sending the money she believed the suspect blocked her and the lease was a scam although it did look official when she signed it.”
Wright says there are practices both landlord and renter can do to prevent scams. And the Better Business Bureau has listed many of them on their website.
"Put water marks on the photo…something that makes it difficult for a Scammer to copy that information. And then the other thing is for people that are engaging in renting properties, don't just rely on emailing back and forth, get on the phone and talk to these people, hear their voice, meet them in person, do a walkthrough of the property prior to agreeing to wiring money for a deposit.”
The Better Business Bureau of Northern Utah recently published a press release warning of the pervasive fraudulent practices used by criminals in the vacation and home rental marketplace.