TOWSON, Md. - If you've shopped for apartments in the Baltimore area, you know they're not cheap. But a new rental scam in the area might have you wondering whether you've found a deal.
Towson area realtor Kathleen Williams is warning potential renters about a scam she's seen pop up recently. According to Williams, listing photos from some of the homes she's been trying to sell in the Stoneleigh neighborhood of Baltimore County have been fraudulently pulled and used in an internet rental scheme.
As part of the scheme, the scammers pull the pictures and use them in ads for apartments on craigslist. The ads claim you can rent the homes for as little as $700-900 in Stoneleigh, although properties in that area typically rent for more than $2,000.
Once you express interest, the scammers tell you they're out of town but that you should drive by the property. If you like what you see, you're supposed to send along a deposit to hold the home and then you'll be sent the keys. But the problem is, you'll be sending money to a stranger to rent an apartment that's not even available.
Williams thinks students in the Baltimore area could be potentially targeted and fooled by the scheme. She says, "You just need to be a little bit savvy and say if they won't even let me see the inside before they ask them to give them money this must not be for real."
Williams reported the ads to craiglist and the federal government's Internet Crime Complaint Center, asking them to be pulled down. She says if you see similar ads that are too good to be true, you should contact craigslist and have them flagged.