Olive Branch police issue warning over rental scam

By Nick Kenney - bio | email

OLIVE BRANCH, MS (WMC-TV) - Rental scams are nothing new, but a post on the Olive Branch Police Department's Facebook page says the scam is being tweaked with a twist that makes it hard to identify.

According to Randy Hutchinson of the Better Business Bureau, the scam is the first of its type in the Mid-South.

"We've heard of similar scams, but this is the first time the crooks have actually been able to get you into the house, which makes it seems more legit," he said.

It starts on-line, where an unknowing victim answers an ad on Craigslist about a house for rent, and sets up a meeting to see the property.  The victim meets with someone at the house, pays a month of rent and a security deposit in cash, and gets the keys. Only after the victim moves into the house does he learn the person he met with isn't the rightful owner of the house.

The Olive Branch Police Department declined comment Monday, referring questions back to the Facebook post which warns of the scam and cites a victim who allegedly lost $1,700.

At the BBB, Hutchinson recommends that consumers protect themselves by being cautious and doing their homework. If possible, he says, renters should avoid deals that require cash payment or include undue urgency.

Hutchinson added that renters should not wire money to strangers.

Olive Branch police are still investigating the case.

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