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Washoe County warns of fraudulent rental listings


Rental listing scams aren’t new, but Washoe County Code Enforcement officials this week said they’re making the rounds in the Truckee Meadows. People looking for a rental are urged to use caution when making transactions to avoid losing out on money and a place to stay.

Short term property owners and other rental listing owners are also asked to report any fraudulent listings for their properties to Washoe County Code Enforcement at [email protected], or at 775-328-6106.

The scam local officials said is in play involves fake listings for a rental using images taken from a real listing and similar rental language. The fraudsters post the listing on alternative, largely ungoverned platforms, such as Craigslist, often for below market rate. Payment is generally requested in hard-to-track electronic forms such as Bitcoin, Venmo or similar.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) notes that often these scammers ask for a deposit or, in the case of longer term rentals, a month’s rent, before the property has been seen or a lease has been signed. Other scammers, it notes, offer up for rent properties that don’t exist.

The FTC notes that if you can’t meet the landlord or property owner or see the property in person, keep looking for a different rental.

For short-term rentals, Washoe County also notes that local code requires property owners to follow certain rules and advertising standards or face fines and penalties.

Victims of rental scams in Washoe County are asked to report the crime to the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Financial Crimes Division at 775-328-3320. Crimes committed through the internet also fall under the Federal Bureau of Investigations. This is the Internet Crimes Complaint Center (IC3), and can be found at https://www.ic3.gov/.

For more information on spotting and avoiding rental scams, the FTC maintains information at https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/rental-listing-scams.

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