Scammers lure potential tenants using fake ads with real estate photos, Tulsa police warn | Crime News

From staff reports

Tulsa police warn of a rise in rental scams targeting respondents to online ads and share tips on how to avoid being duped.

Scammers are using stolen photographs from legitimate sites such as Zillow to create a fake online market listing, according to a Friday post on the Tulsa Police Department’s social media.

Those who respond to the bogus ad could then be offered a tempting incentive to pay a large deposit or several months’ rent upfront, often requested via money transfer apps or gift cards.

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“Ultimately, you just sent a scam artist thousands of dollars for a property you thought you were renting, only to find out the property was never for rent in the first place,” police said. “It was actually for sale by the current owner or through a real estate company.”

Several other red flags can indicate a rental scam, including being denied a tour inside the rental before paying a deposit, or receiving an apology as to why the interior of the property is inaccessible.

“The scammer will have a credible story of being ‘out of town’ or deployed in the military so they can’t physically let you in to view the property,” police said.

Prospective tenants are warned never to make a payment to someone they have never met in person, in addition to thinking twice about listings from private individuals in an online marketplace.

“Do thorough research on the potential property you want to rent out,” police said. “If the landlord doesn’t match the person you’re trying to rent from, stop all communication.”

The Tulsa County Assessor’s Office helps potential tenants with this search through its website, assessor.tulsacounty.org.

Victims of a rental scam are encouraged to file a report at tulsapolice.org.