EDWARDSVILLE – It seems like everything is a potential target for a scam these days, and apartment rentals are no exception.

A discussion with three local real estate agents revealed different types of scams, but they all involved people scammed or deceived by bogus rental property listings.

In the case of Terri Dalla Riva, a realtor at Coldwell Banker Brown Realtors in Edwardsville, a recent scam involved a house she had put up for sale, as well as a neighboring property.

“I had a house for sale at 436 Grandview in Edwardsville. Someone on forrent.com put an ad at 437 Grandview, which is across the street, and took the photos of my ad and said the house at 437 was for rent, ”said Dalla Riva.

“They knew the owner’s name across the street (at 437 Grandview) and used his name in the ad and acted like I was his real estate agent. He called me about it, and I told him we didn’t have his property advertised for rent or on a closing contract. We are not looking for tenants at all. He said he asked three people to stop his house to rent it.

Dalla Riva contacted forrent.com, as did the owner of the home at 436 Grandview. As of Wednesday, the list was still online, but it was finally gone by Thursday morning.

“It has been going on for at least Sunday and it took that long for the list to be removed,” said Dalla Riva, who is concerned about the number of others who may have inquired about the fraudulent list.

The bogus ad also stated that the house at 437 Grandview was renting for $ 550 per month, which Dalla Riva would be “a bargain” compared to current rental rates.

“It’s a house that’s over 1,600 square feet and I expect it to rent for at least $ 1,200 and maybe up to $ 1,500 a month,” said Dalla Riva.

Dalla Riva noted that July and August are the peak time of year for rental properties, and that it can also be the peak time for apartment rental scams.

She warned that tenants should be vigilant when it comes to background checks of landlords.

“If you are looking for a place to rent, check with the Town of Edwardsville or the Village of Glen Carbon and check the tax records on the Madison County website to make sure you know who owns the property,” Dalla Riva noted. “If it’s an LLC, go to cyberdriveillinois.com (the official site of the Illinois Secretary of State) and see if it’s a registered LLC. You want to make sure that you know that this is real estate for rent.

“We’re in such a tight rental market and people can try to get something invisible. Scammers take advantage of kids returning to school and people trying to get their kids ready for school or anyone trying to get out of a house for a new one.

Kristin Campbell, Associate Broker at Jen Faulkner Homes Team-Gori Realtors, gave an example of the risk of renting a property blind and the even greater risk of making an online payment to a buyer than you do. never met.

“A woman I know has been renting for a while in the Edwardsville area and her landlord decided to take advantage of the market and liquidate all of her investment properties so she had to move out in 30 days,” Campbell said. “She had lived there for seven years and had four dogs and she wasn’t going to find anything at the price she was paying there. She was in a tough spot, especially with her business due to COVID, and she was also coming out of bankruptcy.

“I don’t rent, but I was trying to help her find a rental property, and it was difficult because of her dogs and bankruptcy. A day after I spoke to her, she texted me to tell me that she had found something and asked me if it was okay for them to want money up front for a deposit. before seeing the property. She said she was supposed to meet a woman the next day to see the property, but when she called her back she was a ghost and never heard from her again.

Campbell said the tenant had not been able to recover his bond money.

“I told him never to give money to someone you’ve never met and for property you’ve never visited,” Campbell said. “She said the photos (of the property) were great, but it turns out the photos were from another (legitimate) listing.

“She contacted the police, but they couldn’t do anything. It’s unfortunate and I feel bad for her. Not only did she just get kicked out of her house, but she got ripped off for $ 1,500 when she has no money to spare.

John Bolling, meanwhile, is an associate broker for Dream Home Realty Center in Wood River.

He told the story of a particularly brazen rental scam he encountered several years ago.

“(The crooks) went to this house and apparently changed the doorknob and the back door lock and gave a lady (who was the target of the scam) a key and made her sign a kind of fake lease online and took his bail, ”Bolling says. “I went there one day to show the house to clients and she was there to cook and wash her clothes. She’d probably moved in a day or two earlier, but (the crooks) had the pictures and everything (from Bolling’s legitimate list) and they said it was their home.

“The lady had paid the deposit for the first month’s rent, which was around $ 1,500, and she never got the money back. She called the cops, but she didn’t have a real lease, and it was all done by Western Union, so she had no contact information with these people. The house was on Craigslist and she never met them.

In another case, Bolling said he received a phone call from someone who told him he had already posted a bond for a house he had listed. They called Bolling because his name was on the fake list as well and he told them that the repository and list they used were not legitimate.

“Things like this happen a lot, so people have to be careful,” Bolling said. “It’s like your phone where there is always some kind of con artist. I don’t know if they get more daring or if they just try different things.

Campbell stresses that tenants should get as much information as possible about the property they wish to rent and the people or companies they are dealing with.

“I would suggest a general search of Madison County tax records to see who owns the house and I would see if it was listed elsewhere,” Campbell said. “The bottom line is that you need to see the property yourself, otherwise you might get ripped off.”

Denise Thibault is the Vacant Properties Coordinator for the City of Edwardsville, and she noted that landlords and potential tenants can do their part to ensure that all apartment rental transactions are legitimate.

“Homeowners need to make sure their property is registered and inspected,” Thibault said. “For tenants, before renting they should call our office and we will check if the property is registered.

“If not, we will contact the owner of the property and have them registered. We can also pull a file and see if the property has been inspected, and we can have it inspected for safety as they are even moving in.

For more information, call Thibault at 618-692-2331.

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