BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The competitive rental market in Bakersfield is leading many to look for homes across social media platforms. As some have found out, be wary of those that look too good to be true.
"You know you try to give people the benefit of the doubt, at least once and I was wrong," said Edwardo Morales.
Morales is tired of scrolling through the home rental posts and finding most are scams. Currently, he is a Fresno resident, he started a job in Bakersfield about a month ago but has been looking for a home here for about three months now.
His current commute is about two hours each way depending on traffic. He said he always avoids the listings with strange e-mails but when he found one on Facebook that did list a number and had a normal-looking email, he decided to give it a try.
He made himself sincere because he said he was in the military and said the house was from his mom. He had a sad story and that he needed to rent it out and so I thought it was real.
He said the person he was talking to asked him to meet up with a third party to turn in the money order. However, since he had already given Morales the address of the supposed rental home. Morales decided to first check out the place.
“But when I started seeing that the location is where nobody has lived in the neighborhood that is when it started to get real. People are getting good,” said Morales.
Morales called the person he had been in contact with and told him he was at the house. The phone went silent and that is the last he heard from him.
The sad story Morales was sold on, is one of the red flags Bakersfield Police Department said anyone looking for a home should be aware of.
“If they are asking you to wire money. First rent deposit, last month, any kind of payment they want you to wire. That is also a red flag as well,” said Janeth Vega the community Relations Specialist with BPD.
Make sure that they are verified users as well and don’t sign anything before you look at it and a written lease is probably the best option.
Morales said he still looking for a home but with the commute is taking a toll he is now considering buying an RV.
There are plenty of other ways scammers will try to take advantage of those looking for housing. According to the FBI, more than 13,000 people reported real estate or rental fraud last year.
Tips from BDP:
- If the rent is below market price it is most likely too good to be true
- If there is a story that needs them to rush the process
- If they are asking you to wire money
- If you never see them face to face
- If they want cash upfront
- If they don’t have a screening process – Background checks are standard
- If you are communicating through e-mail make sure the email looks real. E-mails with many numbers or random letters are a red flag
- Make sure you have a written lease and contract
- Check the pages if you are talking through social media platforms. Many scammers don’t have their face as profile pictures
- Invoices are also easy to photoshop, be aware of those
Number to file complaint: 661-326-3053