Experts caution Soldiers, Families about online rental fraud scams
Story by: Calun Reece
1ST INF. DIV. POST
Fort Riley and surrounding communities need to be aware of recent rental frauds that have been going on in the local area, said Elbert Newman, chief, Housing Services Office.
Scammers are taking valid listings of homes for sale from the Internet and are using them to advertise as rentals, he said.
"The scammer actually used the real owner's name and local phone number," Newman said.
One scammer portrayed himself as being involved in a recent accident, had surgery and was staying with his children in Florida, Newman said. He asked people interested in the local rental home to call a Florida number.
"The home he used was an actual rental listing we have in our system that rents for $2,650 monthly," Newman said. "He advertised it for $1,000 a month."
The con-artist told potential renters to send him a $1,000 deposit to Florida, and then he would send the keys to the house, Newman said.
"I have been called by three Soldiers regarding this incident, who were ready to send a deposit," Newman said.
The rental was listed on Craigslist but was removed.
Soldiers need to be reminded of the precautions of renting a home, he said. A Soldier's permanent change of station orders direct them to check in with the Housing Services Office, prior to entering a rental agreement that is off post, Newman said.
"(Soldiers) can use other sources, such as social media sites to find rental listings, but if it is something the HSO does not have listed, they need to check it out with us prior to putting any money down," Newman said. "This applies not only to Fort Riley, but to all (Continental United States) installations. They all have an HSO."
The HSO webpage and Facebook page also have tips to help Soldiers and their Families from experiencing rental fraud, Newman said.
"There is a lot of rental information on the Internet, and the majority of it is valid, however, keep in mind (to) check it out, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't," he said.
For more information about renting a house, call the Housing Services Office 785-239-2405 or visit www.riley.army.mil/UnitPage.aspx?unit=DPW.RCI or www.facebook.com/pages/fort-riley-housing/275180482495396?ref=ts&fref=ts#!/FortRileyhso?fref=ts.