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Rental Scam Targets Sioux Falls

April 11, 2014, 10:10 PM by Angela Kennecke

Rental Scam Targets Sioux Falls

If you're in the market to rent a house in Sioux Falls, you could be target of a scam.  Sioux Falls realtors say their home listings are being used all over the Internet and advertised as rentals when they really aren't.

There are addresses and pictures inside and out of Sioux Falls homes all over listing sites.  It's easy to grab an image and post it anywhere as a rental.  Realtor Brandon Martens has had calls just this week inquiring if his listings are really for rent. 

"They asked for $600 and the first month's rent of $800.  The property is listed on the MLS between the $170,000 and $180,000 price range and really what it comes down to is that's not a realistic rent for a property like that.  And people are calling and they are just stunned because they think this place is actually for rent," Martens said.

It's part of a bigger scam that has been on Craigslist for years, but has now branched out to other rental sites.

"I wanted to play him along enough so I could get as much information as I could," Realtor LaVerta Christensen said.

Christensen has had someone inquire about renting one of her home listings as well.  So she picked up the phone and called the guy running the scam. 

"He said, 'We are missionaries.  We own this house; we're out of the country.  We intend to come back to Sioux Falls, but we don't want our house to sit empty,'" Christensen said.

The man with the foreign accent first asked her to wire $1,600 to Montana, when she said she couldn't, he told her to go put the cash on a MoneyPak card and give him the number. 

"He was very anxious--he wanted his money as soon as possible because he had this live fish on the line," Christensen said.

Christensen told him she'd decided against it and later when she called back, the number had been disconnected.  But realtors in Sioux Falls say people continue to fall for the scam.

"People have pulled up into the driveway with their moving truck to move into a rental house and waited for someone that was supposed to meet them there to get them the keys and they are out every penny they spent and homeless at that," Martens said.

Realtors say if a person from out-of-state or the country is renting a property that should be your first red flag.  Whenever possible, always deal with a local rental agency to find real properties for rent.

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