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Local family nearly victimized by rental scammer

Posted at 5:28 PM, Aug 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-08 21:14:07-04

SAN DIEGO - San Diego's seemingly nonstop rise in rent is attracting scammers trying to take advantage of people looking for a deal.

One person almost succeeded in Oceanside this week, until a dead giveaway stopped a family from wiring nearly $2,000 for a fake listing.

The swindler copied real estate agent Marc Prestera's listing of a single-family home in Oceanside. Prestera advertised the three-bedroom, two-bathroom house on a 10,000 square foot lot for about $2,400 a month. The scammer copied the listing and put it on Apartments.com, advertising it for $1,000 a month.

"If the rent seems too doggone good to be true, it probably is," said Prestera.

Prestera found out about the scam when a woman called him ready to wire over the money for first month's rent and the security deposit.

"Which struck me as odd because I had not yet shown the house and I hadn't forwarded anybody an application," he said.

The woman averted the scam when she actually went to the home to see it in person. The for-rent sign out front had a different phone number than the scammer, which had 323 and 615 area codes. Both numbers lead to a Google voicemail.

Prestera told the woman not to wire any money, and he called the scammer.

When the person picked up, Prestera said, "And I lit into him. I told him how I felt, which was not very polite."

The swindler removed the listing within 20 minutes, and later sent Prestera a text message that read: "Lol."

"And I sent them a quick text, again just gave him a two-sentence piece of my mind, and it's nothing I can repeat [on camera]," Prestera said.

With the scammer empty handed, it's Prestera that gets the last laugh.