WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – Local police want to remind those looking for rental properties to be aware of scams.
Westfield Police have been investigating recent rental schemes that have cost possible tenants thousands of dollars. The schemes traditionally request a down payment, security deposit or first and last months rent, and after those are paid the apartment cannot be moved into and the person who conned them has not been heard from.
Police say this works because the property is usually priced significantly lower than it should be.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Westfield detective Tony Tsatsos said.
Tsatsos said that scammers will often take houses and apartments already for sale and create their own ads, but with the aforementioned much lower prices.
After someone shows interest, the scammer will request money ahead of time, often in cash.
Another way that potential tenants are being taken advantage of is when the property is owned by someone, but the owner accepts multiple deposits for the same apartment or property. A scheme of this type is currently being investigated by Westfield Police they said, and has been prosecuted before.
These scams are mostly targeted toward those moving into the area from another, so visiting the location may be difficult. However, Tsatsos said that visiting may be the best way to prevent losing money, especially if you can talk to neighbors about the property.
Tsatsos said another way to prevent this from happening is to work with a company for rental properties.
“We recommend you go through a realty company,” Tsatsos said. “Realty companies will also assist people with rental properties.”