Temple police are warning residents and realtors of a rental property scam being listed via Facebook Marketplace.
Officers were notified about a property for rent on East Drive. The police department said it is not aware of any victims who have been scammed yet.
"Officers learned the potential victim visited the location, contacted the realtor before moving forward with the purchase, and realized the home was not for rent," said police.
According to the FBI, in 2020 more than 13,000 victims were scammed out of $213 million through rental scams.
It almost happened to Elizabeth Washington, a Temple resident who is 6 months pregnant and looking for a home. She did her search on Facebook's marketplace and stumbled upon a scammer.
Washington said the scammer pressured her to send the money ... she said he'd say, “I’m going to send you a lease you’ll sign it, send me the money, and then I’ll send you the key.”
Temple police say criminals require a deposit to be sent through Western Union or money transfer apps. After the money is sent, they block you and you don't get what you paid for.
Fortunately in Washington's case, she noticed something strange with the lease and backed out before it was too late. But this is not the case for everyone.
Temple police provided a list of potential rental scam indicators that potential buyers or renters can look out for:
- The property owner or realtor does not want to meet you in person.
- The property owner or realtor wants you to move in immediately, without ever seeing the property.
- The property owner or realtor asks for rent or a security deposit before signing the lease.
- The price is questionably low.
- The listing has many typos or excessive punctuation.
- There is no tenant screening process.
Anyone who has fallen victim to the scam, or needs to report suspicious behavior can call the Temple Police Department at (254) 298-5500.