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Beware of online rental scams

Mary Chao, Staff writer

While looking through Craigslist, Rochester homeowner Ryan Yacano noticed something suspicious. His 1,434-square-foot Colonial-style home that is currently on the market for $89,900 was being featured for rent on the online classified site.

“They were asking for $800 a month, utilities included,” Yacano said of the scam artists on Craigslist. “I don’t know how people think that’s possible because that’s less than my monthly mortgage.”

Real estate offers are ever present online. But they increase in spring because the number of listings climb during the busy spring market, area real estate experts say, cautioning that if a rental deal looks too good to be true, it may be a scam.

Realtor Susan Glenz of Keller Williams of Greater Rochester is the listing agent for Yacano’s home at 120 Weston Road off Lake Avenue. She has seen two of her listings in the past few weeks promoted illegally as rentals online in an attempt to take someone’s deposit check.

In the case of Yacano’s home, someone took photos Glenz used in an online listing and created a Craigslist rental ad, posing as the owner. They didn’t use the real owner’s name, but they used the name of a relative of his. When potential renters inquired about the property via the ad, they received a long emotional email about why the owner needed to rent it and why the owner was charging such a great low rate, she said. The scammer also asked for a security deposit up front.

Yacano, who works in information technology, decided to research the scam and found that the IP address originated from Washington state but the phone number was traced to nearby Albion in Orleans County. Since the scam artist is out of state, he decided not to ask local law enforcement for assistance.

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