The ABC7 I-Team is investigating a rental scam in Illinois that’s using technology to trick people out of their money.
The scheme is simple: a fake landlord can easily obtain entry codes to rental homes from a legitimate website and then dupe unsuspecting house hunters out of security deposits.
The I-Team is revealing how easily it can be done after obtaining access to suburban homes. It took only 30 seconds for me to get access codes to open a lock box and get inside a 3-bedroom Bolingbrook home that rents for about $2,200 a month.
The person giving me the information to get in is not the landlord or a realtor – it’s a colleague in North Carolina working with the I-Team to expose this nationwide risk to would-be renters.
The concern is that anyone can access those codes and get the keys – opening doors for people to pose as property owners, preying on unsuspecting renters.
Valerie Thorpe says she lost $1,700 to someone who manipulated the system.
“I really blinked and thought that this was going to be perfect for me and my kids and now I am having to start over with absolutely nothing,” Thorpe said.
Thorpe said she sent a deposit to a con artist who had nothing to do with American Homes 4 Rent, but he used that site to get information on the listing, obtain a key code, and then to post his own fraudulent ad on Craigslist.
“He said when you get to the property, give me a call and I will give you the code to get into the lockbox,” Thorpe said.
Unfortunately, a rental scam in Illinois is too common. How do you protect yourself from such scams?
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