It said Tuesday that Internet scammers are posting listings on classified ad websites offering a home for rent in the Kosciusko County area.
The scammer provides contact information that is an email address or phone number, and asks for texts only. The scammer then tells a story to the potential victim about some hardship or circumstance in which he or she must rent the home quickly and cheaply.
The fraudulent ads look legitimate on the surface, and include pictures and detailed descriptions of the house, the sheriff’s department said. These houses are not owned by the scammer, nor does the scammer have any legitimate right to rent the home.
The scammer attempts to have the victim send a rent deposit and the first month’s rent through a cash transfer service such as MoneyGram, or gets the victim to buy and then send the scammer a prepaid credit card through a service such as Green Dot, the sheriff’s department said.
The scammer sends the potential victim a package that is supposed to allow access to the home and a request for an additional month of rent, supposedly to complete the rental agreement.
The sheriff’s department urged anyone looking for a home to be “very cautious when renting a home that they cannot inspect prior to placing a deposit or inspect prior to sending money for a deposit.”
It advised renters not to send cash, wire money or send prepaid credit cards to people they do not know. Money transferred this way cannot be recovered or returned to the sender, the department said, especially after it leaves the country.
The homes are found in legitimate real estate listings or public government records, the sheriff’s department said.
Another clue for potential victims is that the scammer will set up an email address through a free email service, and make the email address appear legitimate by using all or some of the true owner’s name in the email address.