A beautiful house was nestled in a quiet neighborhood in Byram. A Hinds County mother, who did not want WLBT to identify her, found the property on HotPads.com as a three bedroom rental. The $800 a month price tag for a fully furnished house with utilities included was too good to be true.
"You would think that a home like this would go for $1,200 or more a month. It has got a jacuzzi, it even has pictures of what it looks like inside. It was an excellent home," said the unidentified woman.
The point of contact was in England and a number of emails were exchanged. The so-called home owner seemed eager to have her send first month's rent and a $650 deposit via Western Union to London.
"He kept emphasizing I need someone to take care of my house please, take care of my house," said the woman.
The house was not for rent, it was for sale. "It is a scam that has been going on for years. Our National Association of Realtors was aware of the scam along with the local Attorney General's office, the FBI. The reason it is difficult to do anything about it is the criminals are overseas," said Jo Usry, CEO of Jackson Association of Realtors.
The scammers use legitimate online listings, then cut and paste pictures and a description onto other websites where the property is listed as a rental.
"Some of them are being told they will be handed the keys to the property before they have ever been inside the property. Of course they will never get inside the property because the property is not for rent," said Usry.
A sign of the scam is the owner never being able to meet and open the home. Before paying a penny make sure to get a tour, meet the landlord and if the deal seems too good to be true it likely is.
The Hinds County mother said she was close to losing $800, but she stopped the payment sent overseas after calling the realtor whose sign was in the front yard.
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