GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCBD) – Goose Creek Police Department (GCPD) is warning residents of home rental scams advertised on Facebook Marketplace and Craig’s List.
According to GCPD, scammers are advertising rental properties online for homes without authorization. Victims report receiving lockbox codes and keys to properties after paying scammers through Venmo, Cash App, Apple Pay, and Zelle. In some cases, victims planned to move into the property, but later to find they were being scammed.
Police have confirmed with rental agencies that these rental listings are fake. Legitimate rental postings are not advertised on Facebook or Craig’s List.
Goose Creek Police Chief LJ Roscoe said the scam has happened several times this year. “Since January, we here at the Goose Creek Police Department, have received seven cases of home rental scams,” she said.
Here’s how the scam works:
“People are going online and seeing homes that are for rent. Pictures have been taken off legitimate rental sites and then scammers are putting them on Marketplace, Craigslist, and other places listing it as their properties for rent.”
One home in Sofia Landing has been used by scammers in this fashion.
Even though the scammer is not the actual company or individual renting the home, the scammers may even have the lockbox code for you to take a look at the house before you pay a deposit.
“We found out recently that America’s Home for Rent is actually allowing people to have to code via email. If you contact them, they are a legitimate company, and say hey I’m interested in this house they’re providing that pin number.”
A scammer could get the lockbox code and give it to victims so they can see the house before paying a deposit or rent.
That happened at one home in Longleaf. The victim of the scam did not want to be identified but said he moved in in January with his family after he saw the home for rent on Craigslist.
“Talked to the guy on the phone, he seemed to be real nice, real respectful. He kept us on the phone while we look through the house and he said if it’s ours we have to go online and fill out an application. We got instant approval- he said we could move in as soon as we pay the deposit. We paid our deposit, first month’s rent.”
They moved into the home in January, but nobody ever removed the lockbox. So, he looked up the owner online and contacted them.
“So, I contacted them and filed a police report with the police,” he said.
Fortunately for him, the homeowner worked it out with him to let him stay there until he closed on a home that he is purchasing nearby.
“It’s been stressful. It really has. It’s been a lot of stress on me and my wife.”
Chief Roscoe said there are some things you can do to make sure you don’t get scammed like this.
Number one is trying to meet the person at the home to see it. If they tell you they can’t make it there, that should be a potential red flag.
Number two, many of these scams require you to pay through Venmo or some sort of money app. That’s another potential red flag.
This investigation is ongoing. If you have information on these incidents, contact GCPD at (843) 863-5200.