(WTNH) — The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has issued a warning about online rental scams.
Whether it’s an apartment or a vacation beach home, the internet is loaded with bogus listings. Renters pay for a home that doesn’t exist or isn’t actually owned by the lister.
“People have actually flown over to Italy using Airbnb and showing up to a property that doesn’t exist,” said BBB’s Luke Frey.
According to the BBB, 43% of the listings that people see on the internet are frauds or scams. Nationwide, 5.2 million people have been taken in on the scams to the tune of about $37 million — that’s just in the last 10 months.
It’s one of the biggest scams on the internet right now, and the BBB found that the average person loses about $400, but 1/3 of people lose more than $1,000.
Jesse Gosselin was on the other end of the scam. Someone took photos from the MLS listing of his house and tried to rent it to anyone who would send a deposit.
“I didn’t want some family showing up with all their stuff walking up to my front door thinking they were going to move in,” Gosselin said.
A friend of his found the advertisement on Craigslist and immediately called him.
“We were very concerned and worried that that was going to happen, so I filed a complaint with Craigslist,” Gosselin explained. “I also called the real estate agent who had those photos and told him about it, and they did the steps on their end to take the photos down.”
Frey said people need to be smarter about when they’re renting online.
“Doing your research, making sure that it is a real property. You’re actually dealing with a real person, and if you are using a site making sure you’re staying on that site and not paying a person directly.”