GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — It can sometimes be difficult to spot the scam -- fake landlords pretending real homes belong to them.
It’s a story Channel 2 Action News has been following for a while now.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Justin Gray said most of the time that he has reported on this problem, it’s been a house owned by a big corporate landlord with lots of properties the scammer pretends to own.
But in the latest case, a metro Atlanta man found that someone was using his home and even his identity.
“I heard a knock at the door, came out and there was a young lady, was here because it was for rent and kind of threw me off because it’s not,” said Gwinnett County homeowner Brian Hamilton.
Hamilton said the first time it happened he was confused. By the second and third times, the same thing happened he was worried.
“I had a lady parked in my driveway on her phone saying she was talking to me supposedly to set up an appointment to come see the house,” Hamilton said.
He said that’s when he found out his home – which he’s owned since 2017 – was listed for rent on Zillow, Trulia, and Hotpad with his name as the contact person.
“They were talking to somebody, and they thought it was me,” Hamilton said.
In a series of Channel 2 Action News stories, we’ve told you about people getting scammed by imposters pretending to rent homes they don’t own and collecting rent and deposits.
- Couple who allegedly scammed woman out of rental home ordered to pay her $120,000
- Tenants say they received eviction papers after learning landlords didn’t actually own their homes
- Metro woman warns others of rental scam that took her for nearly $2,000
“A Barrow County officer came and knocked on the door for eviction,” Llewallyn said.
Jeremy Kelly had to move all his belongings into a storage unit after finding out the Mableton home he’d already moved into was part of a fake rental scam.
Hamilton is worried it could happen to more potential renters.
“I didn’t want that to happen to people where they are scamming them out of money deposits, whatever,” Hamilton said.
Zillow also owns Trulia and Hotpad, and has removed the listing from all three sites telling Gray in a statement quote:
“Our teams monitor activity on the site in several different ways, actively screening for scam listings and preventing them from getting posted. If a listing is found to be fraudulent, it is removed from our site as quickly as possible.”
“Thank goodness it’s down now. It could pop back up again, going to check it every day,” Hamilton said.
There are some red flags you can watch for:
- Does the price sound too good to be true.
- Are they asking for personal information before viewing the property.
- Is the home on multiple sites with different prices or contact info.
Scammers may also hijack a real rental or real estate listing, change the contact information and re-post it on another site like Craigslist or Facebook.
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