(WWLP) – In a highly competitive real estate market, a warning from the FBI that there has been a spike in rental and real estate scams.

Rental property listing scams typically aim to steal money from interested renters, including getting the victim to pay for a security deposit without ever seeing the property, and keeping the money without any intention of actually renting out the space. Scammers may even duplicate postings from legitimate real estate websites.

Carrie Blair, a real estate agent told 22News, “I have had a couple of calls come in from properties that were my listings that were not for sale, and people have asked me when they can view the property for rent.
Because they did a drive-by and they called the real estate agent, I was able to give them the information that it was a fraudulent advertisement.”

You can avoid these scams by doing the following:

  • Do not wire funds to people you do not know.
  • Do not put money put towards a house or apartment you have not seen.
  • Do not fill out applications online until you have met directly with the property manager.
  • Look for online reviews, references, and testimonials from past renters.