Ames, the Iowa real estate agent shares his experience with rental scams

Last year, 11,578 people reported losing a total of $350,328,166 to rental scams, according to 2021 FBI data.

AMES, Iowa — An Ames real estate agent is sending out a warning to potential tenants to be on the lookout for scams.

Misty Metschke, a real estate agent at Hunziker and Associates, said she was shocked when she received calls and messages about a house her client had listed for sale that was falsely advertised for rent.

Metschke said once she found the posts listed on Facebook Marketplace, she flagged them.

She said the Local 5 scams were something she hadn’t had to deal with in years. For Metschke, what made this scam so different was the complexity of the scheme.

“The scammer [created] a fake email address with the seller’s real name in a Gmail address,” Metschke said. “It actually looks pretty legit.”

She said one of the people in contact with the scammer shared an email she received with her and the red flags were clear.

The potential tenant told Metschke he was glad he noticed the bad grammar, researched the property, and found Metschke’s number before deciding to donate the money.

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Better Business Bureau Iowa President Chris Coleman said rental scams are a problem for Iowans and others across the country.

The BBB began to notice these types of scams increasing once the housing market began to change, according to Coleman.

Coleman said he received many calls from people telling them about this type of scam.

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However, he said the most troubling aspect of the scam is what the scammers earn.

“They get your personal information which can be used in a very expensive and bad way,” Coleman said. “Honestly, the amount is significant.”

In 2021, the FBI reported that 11,578 people reported losing $350,328,166 due to rental programs. That’s a 64% increase from 2020.

In order to avoid scams like the one Metschke customers have caught, Coleman recommends a few tips for staying safe:

  1. Research the property. Look at the address and see if it appears in other cities or states.
  2. Look at similarly priced homes. If the house doesn’t match in terms of quality or size, be careful.
  3. Do not trade large sums of money on apps. You never know who you are sending it to.

To report cases of scam or fraud, you can share any information you know on the BBB’s Self-Report Portal.

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