New scam involves rental homes

Posted at: 05/09/2014 6:25 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

There is a real estate ripoff taking place in Albuquerque that preys on people who are looking for a bargain on a rental home.

Here’s how it works. You’re looking online for a house to rent. You’re checking listings on Craig’s List, Trulia, and Zillow – websites where people peddle property with no questions asked. You find yourself a screaming deal.

We found one on Trulia. A $600 a month, three bedroom pad in the nifty Altura Park neighborhood with two bathrooms and everything remodeled. KOB Eyewitness News 4 called the contact phone number and got a quick response in a text message.

“I’m Mrs. Rosalind the owner,” the text said. “I’m giving out the house with such a reasonable amount because I am only paying God back for his kindness and mercy.”

KOB checked out the house, and it turns out the “Mrs. Rosalind” who texted us is not the owner. It is for rent but the rent is $1,450 a month – much more money and much more realistic in the market than $600. The real property manager is the well-known Bruni-Karr Properties of Albuquerque, and they tell us they run into this scam practically every week.

“My advice is, if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is,” said Machelle Dubriel of Bruni-Karr. “If you get those types of ads and you respond to them you usually get a response back in text messages. They’ll usually ask for either your social security number or they’ll ask you to send money or they’ll ask for both.”

And that’s exactly what happened with our scammer, who wanted all kinds of personal information on a rental application form and lots of money up front.

“I am also here in Georgia, in Bowman with my house keys and the document of my house,” the scammer texted, telling us the house could be ours in a hurry if we sent the requested information and money. We texted back, identifying ourselves.

“We know this is a scam and we know you are a scammer,” our text went. “What do you have to say for yourself?”

Apparently nothing.  No more texts. The phone number had a Chicago area code. That’s a big place, but the scammer could literally be anyplace with cell service. Law enforcement say it's difficult to investigate, hard to arrest, and tough to prosecute.