ROSEVILLE, Calif. (KTXL) – The Roseville Police Department says they are seeing a local boom in the housing market and in response are informing the community about the rise of rental scams in the area.
It’s no surprise, desperation for finding a home in these Placer and Sacramento County neighborhoods is at an all-time high, scammers know this and they are getting better at coming up with ways of stealing money.
“This is one of the most under-reported scams that are out there right now because of how highly competitive this market is,” said public information officer Rob Baquera.
Baquera says for about two weeks Roseville detectives have received multiple phone calls about people claiming they were scammed out of buying or renting a new home.
“Ultimately, what they’re trying to get is deposit money, personal identification, credit cards, social security numbers,” Baquera said.
According to Roseville police, scammers will pretend to be landlords who hijack and alter property listings online. They’ll ask for a deposit before the lease is signed or pull a classic bait-and-switch with a different property.
It’s advised to watch out for listings that are below market prices, sellers or agents that are out of the country, and phantom rentals which are places that don’t exist or are already occupied.
Baquera says to also be careful of where you’re seeing these listings.
“You look at platforms like a Zillow or like a Facebook Marketplace and it makes it so easy for people to post a rental listing online, the problem is anyone can do that,” Baquera said.
At a time when there is very little inventory and many desperate homebuyers, Roseville realtor Chuck Klein says scams like these are not surprising.
“The imbalance is so real right now, that it’s just natural what is going on, when’s it going to end? We don’t expect it to end soon,” Klein said.
Klein says he saw the same thing happen several years ago while meeting a client at a home in foreclosure.
“Somebody comes up to my car and knocks on the passenger side window and he’s got a piece of paper in his hand and I rolled down my window and he says ‘I’ve got the check,’ and I was completely taken back,” Klein said.
He says the stranger was told by the alleged homeowner to drop off a deposit check through Craigslist.
“He would’ve given that money to someone he didn’t know and would never, ever see again,” Klein said.
Baquera says future Roseville homebuyers should heed this warning.
“Be very cautious before you give money to anyone,” Baquera said.
Baquera says there are potentially dozens of more people who have been scammed locally, they just haven’t realized it yet.
If you think you are a victim, call the Roseville Police Department as soon as possible.