COLLIER COUNTY, Fla - A scam targets a high end home in one of Naples most expensive neighborhoods. The crooks take listings off legitimate real estate websites and re-post them for a fraction of the price.
The Collier County Sheriff's Office gets rental scam reports on a weekly basis, but this was the first time they saw a listing on a legitimate rental website.
With the season fast approaching, rental properties in Naples are in high demand. WINK News found a three bedroom, 2,000 square foot home in the prestigious Aqualane Shores neighborhood on Trulia.com last week. The advertisement describes an updated beach cottage, with a pool, walking distance to the beach and downtown Naples all for $800/month with a $400 deposit.
"Anyone who knows the town would know it really didn't make sense, but someone who is not in town wouldn't necessarily know right off the bat that's way out of line for the area," says Lee Leatherwood, the broker for Premier Sotheby's Realty. She was shocked when she found out her listing fell victim to the scam that really rents out for $10,000/month.
"The public should be aware that this is going on," says Leatherwood.
The current renter declined an interview, but says people have been stopping by all week long to look at the property and all had received the same email from someone using the name John Larson. The email says, "you are welcome to rent and stay for any period of years as you wishes. You can drive by my house today, then get back to me so we can proceed with the rental plan."
Lt. Chad Parker with the Collier County Sheriff's Office says the scams usually come from overseas, meaning their hands are tied. "In this case we tried calling the number and it says out of service already so they use the phone temporarily to commit a bunch of scams in a short period of time and they get rid of the phone and the phone number."
Leatherwood adds, "if it looks wrong, it probably is wrong. If someone is asking for money, that's a red flag."
The Sheriff's Office says if you see a possible rental scam online you should flag the post and within 45 minutes the ad will be removed.