Be wary when a rental listing looks too good to be true, it probably is. A scam has been actively circulating in which legitimate “for lease” or “for sale” listings are hijacked, then re-listed with fraudulent contact information and a very low asking price.
Here’s an example of a currently hijacked listing. It was listed yesterday (12/18/13) for $750/month, which is considerably below market rate. LifeCycle contacted the actual listing agent and confirmed the listing has been used without permission. In these cases, perpetrators take advantage of the urgency of prospective lessees. Someone meets you at the home, makes up a story about why they can’t let you in (keybox isnt working), collects a security deposit, then the consumer never sees them again.
In this case, all of the photos used have a “SWMRIC” stamp, which means they were taken from a listing posted on the web site of the local Real Estate association. A legitimate rental listing would commonly use original photos and wouldn’t have this stamp (although circumstances do exist in which this could automatically happen for a legitimate listing).
This is a common scam that has been going on for a long time, and it is hard for authorities to stop. If you have any questions about a listing that is too good to be true, contact a professional real estate agent or property manager for verification. Ask for identification from the lessor, and verify the info provided is correct.
When this kind of scam is discovered, complaints should be filed with Michigan’s Attorney General.