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With Bend market hot again, rental scams on the rise


Craigslist can be used for everything from selling clothing to job hunting, but real estate agents in Central Oregon are warning potential renters to be careful when using it to search for a place to hang their hat.

A time-honored saying applies: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Linda Gardner, principal broker at Bend Brokers Realty, said Friday.

“I got a couple of phone calls a few weeks ago, and I had a new listing — and all of a sudden, somebody was trying to rent it,” she said.

The La Pine home is listed for sale on Trulia, but a colleague told Gardner it’s also listed for rent on another site.

“It was put on Craigslist. They asked a ridiculously low kind of ren,t and they just were trying to scam people,” Gardner said.

She said this is an old scam that’s recently been resurfacing.

“I haven’t seen it since our last really good real estate market and tight rental market, so like the 2006-2007 (period), before we went downhill fast. So I think that it’s tied to the fact people are a little looser with their money than they’ve been in a little while.”

A potential renter forwarded her the letter he received from the supposed owner. Gardner said there are red flags to watch for. For instance, the “owner” isn’t available to meet or show the house.

“‘We need somebody to trust and who is dependable to take care of our property when we are out of town,'” Gardner said, reading from the typical letter. “If you will be the right tenant, we will get the keys and documents sent to you via courier.”

Since many scams use houses that are currently for sale, to trick people, they will usually have real estate signs up.

So the letter reads, “Do not contact the sign in front of the house. And I also wrote it is for sale, But it is a rent to own option.”

Gardner recommended comparing rates of other rentals in the area. She said if the price is much lower, it probably isn’t a steal — it’s a scam.

“If you get a crazy ad that you see like that, ask yourself first — and I hate to be this skeptical, but you have to be in today’s world: Could it possibly be that this big house would rent for that kind of money?” Gardner urged. “Just take a deep breath think about it for a minute before you respond.”

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