The Attorney General’s Office is out with a warning for Delawareans looking for a vacation rental this summer.
The Consumer Protection Unit of the Delaware Department of Justice is warning that scammers are operating rental schemes, by finding legitimate rental postings and capturing the information and photos of the property, then posting them on Craigslist and other online advertising platforms. The DOJ says unsuspecting consumers searching for a good deal on a rental may find the bogus posting, send a deposit and receive confirmation of their rental, only to arrive and find other people in the home.
The DOJ says rental home scams also occur with regard to longer term residential rentals. Prospective tenants in these scenarios may be shown an available property where the scammers have changed the locks to unlawfully gain access. The scammers will collect a security deposit and first month’s rent, and may even provide keys and allow the consumer to move into the property. Typically, only when the true owner or a neighbor notices, will the tenant be aware that they have been conned.
Officials have provided tips to avoid getting scammed including working with a licensed realtor or property management company when possible, using online search engines to research whether the property appears on other sites or listing platforms, and researching the true owner of the property by conducting a parcel search online through the state’s platform.
Consumers who believe they may have been scammed should contact their local police department and file a report. They can also call the Attorney General’s toll-free Consumer Hotline at (800) 220-5424, or email DOJ’s Consumer Protection Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org.