JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCBD) – A James Island woman hoping to start her year in a new home said she instead fell victim to a scam.
Last week, Brooke Olsen found a listing for a James Island condo on Redfin.com, for $1,400 a month.
“I’m a single mom, it appealed to me, so I immediately jumped on it,” Olsen told News 2.
She filled out the application and was quickly approved. According to Olsen, the supposed landlord asked for a deposit, first month’s rent, and a cleaning fee before she ever stepped foot into the home.
“The property does exist that I was looking at and I did visit the property, but I was never allowed to go into it. They told me they were going to mail me the keys,” explained Olsen.
Olsen said she never talked to the person on the phone, only through email. She told News 2 she paid $2,600 through a money transferring app and hasn’t heard back since.
According to Bailey Parker with the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs, these are all signs of a scam.
“If you come in contact with somebody and they’re telling you, you have to pay in a specific way, and its like wire-transfer, cryptocurrency, a really weird, unusual form of payment, some money transfer service or an app, that’s usually the biggest red flag of a scam,” Parker explained.
These forms of payment are hard to trace, according to Parker.
Parker said scammers are taking information from real listings and changing the contact information to their own.
“They’ll make it look exactly the same as another legitimate listing on some other site,” Parker said. “It’s
just that easy as copy and paste.”
Olsen has since found a new place to live, but the experience was a lesson learned.
“I mean, it’s just me being naïve but it’s also that scam was geared to people like me who were in a desperate situation, who need a low payment, and I completely fell for it,” Olsen said.
Olsen said she contacted Redfin, who told her the listing was removed and they would look into the situation.
The alleged scam is under investigation at the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office.