Scammers resorting to rental properties to rip off prospective tenants

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There’s a warning for those looking for available homes to rent in the metro. FOX 4 heard from three property owners, two locally, who say scammers are using their properties to rip people off. Tracking down the culprits can be harder than you might think. That’s why these property owners are looking to get the word out.

“How do you steal a house? They stole my house!”

That was property owner Jaymi Munn’s reaction upon learning someone else posted her rental property as their own, complete with a Nebraska area code phone number listed as the contact.

What she found just as shocking was the response she got when she contacted the person.

“Basically she swore at me and said, ‘this is my house, this is not your house,'” said Munn.

However, that isn’t true. FOX 4 called the ‘402’ number also, but with no luck.

Munn’s story isn’t unique. FOX 4 also heard from the owner of a separate property in KCMO, who’s had a similar experience. This time the contact was listed with a New Jersey based number.

FOX 4 decided to give that one a try, too. The man who answered the phone, claimed the property was his. When he was told why we were asking him, he hung up the phone. After getting disconnected from the man on the phone several times, he simply decided not to answer any more questions. The only response give when FOX  4 inquired further was “Thank You.”

As it turns out, the same phone number is listed in connection with a property scam out of Portland, Oregon. Titan Properties posted the scam alert on its Facebook page and even provided FOX 4 with an email coming from a potential victim.

In it, a man calling himself Christopher Sommer claimed he worked for US-AID, and had to leave Portland for a job in Florida.

The FBI says millions of dollars are lost each year in property scams and most all of them could have been prevented.

“Be smart. Do your homework. Make sure you see the property in person with the property manager or the owner because there’s no reason you should ever be wiring anybody any money for a property to rent,” said Munn.

Munn called police and the state attorney general’s office, and since has not seen her property in those fake ads. Property owners are also urged to contact the FBI. To avoid being a victim, or to report a rental scam check out the links below:

Better Business Bureau tips for renters

Missouri Attorney General Consumer Complaints

Kansas Attorney General Consumer Complaints

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