Scam artists targeting those looking for homes

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Some people in the market to rent a home in Jefferson County are becoming victims of real estate scams. They are losing thousands of dollars.

Rudy Rudulph of Rudulph Real Estate in Birmingham gets calls four to five times a week about listings of his on Craigslist that he did not post.

Rudulph says a scam artist is copying actual listings and pictures from his website to Craigslist.
After the person inquires through email, the scam artist goes to work asking for references,  first month rent, and a deposit to secure the home.

Rudulph said, "People get the information, have some emails back and forth and send off a money order to a predetermined place. It gets cashed and they never see the keys."

Sgt. L. Roby with the Birmingham Police Major Fraud Division said, "Most of the scams we come across are from London, parts of Africa, some parts of Canada. We even got them out of Shanghai, very few are state side. They are very difficult to track."

Another sign that you're dealing with a scam is if the person only provides an email address and doesn't provide a telephone number to reach them.

Some good advice is to do a lot of research about the home.

Find out the real estate company managing the property and call them to verify the listing.

Copyright 2011 WBRC. All rights reserved.