New scam targeting renters' personal information

Posted at 5:57 PM, Apr 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-26 21:47:36-04

It'll soon be summer - the busiest time of the year for San Diego's rental market. 

But renters beware. There's a new scam targeting people searching for the ideal property on Craigslist. 

The properties are real. The companies in the ads are real. But the ads are bogus, placed by scammers. And in many cases, the properties have already been rented.

"They're asking you to send them a cashier's check and to fill out a credit report to move in," said Christian Spicer of Ascent Property Management and Ascent Real Estate.

What scammers want is nothing really new. What is new is how they're luring people to reply to their ads.  Spicer showed 10News how scammers placed multiple Craigslist ads using Ascent’s name. 

The ad reads: "This property is professionally handled by Ascent Property Management. That number is of no reference to us whatsoever,” said Spicer.

While 10News interviewed Spicer, he pulled up Craigslist and found three fake ads showing one of Ascent’s rental properties in Eastlake that rented two months ago. 

"The property rented for $1995 a month. The ads posted, we've seen two different prices, $1620 a month and $1520 a month,” said Spicer.

Renters think it's legitimate because of the company name in the ads. In the past two weeks, agents at Ascent received four phone calls from renters asking if the company received their credit reports. 

"And I've had to tell them, they've been scammed,” said Spicer.

Through Spicer, 10News tried to reach out to the people scammed. So far, there have been no replies yet so it’s unknown if their personal information has been compromised.

These scams also affect the property management companies.

"Someone went on to Yelp and yelped us with a one star saying we're posting multiple ads with different prices; this is a shady company,” said Spicer.

That raised the first red flag for Ascent, which had no idea what was going on. It reached out to that Yelper to explain. That yelper has since apologized and removed the post.

Spicer says the bottom line is never send money or fill out a credit report online without first seeing the property.

Spicer adds that if you're moving to a new city and can't see the rental first, ask the landlord or manager to FaceTime or Skype.

Ascent alerted 10News to this scam. Click on this link for more information on how to avoid being scammed by fake rental ads.