VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – A local realtor has a warning for those looking to rent in Hampton Roads.
The FBI reports an increase in rental fraud across the country, and just last month, a real estate agent at COVA Collective got a call from one of her clients who closed on a home and said people were trying to move in.
“We had had a meeting about it in our market center, just hey everyone keep an eye out,” realtor Taylor Bagnick said. “There is some fraudulent stuff happening in the market. Two days later after my client closes he was like hey my property is listed for rent.”
Bagnick, an agent at COVA Collective, started investigating and noticed her client’s property listed for rent across multiple websites.
She reported each listing and they were quickly removed, but the damage was already done. She tells us within a week, multiple people showed up at her client’s front door.
“He started to get knocks on his door that people had paid security deposits to rent his home that wasn’t actually for rent,” Bagnick said. “People were even showing up with moving trucks trying to go into the property,” Bagnick stated.
Bagnick said it happened at least five times. Her client has since filed a police report.
“As a military spouse myself, there’s been plenty of times that we have moved to a new area that we’ve rented sight unseen and you show up with all of your belongings and the person at the door says this house was never for rent what do you do at that point,” Bagnick said.
Bagnick advised those looking to rent to try to call the person listed on the ad and ask them to verify their identity before sending money.
“Whoever you’re sending it to, have them … send you a picture of their photo ID so that you can at least verify that you’re sending it to the right person,” Bagnick said.
Some other red flags are spelling and grammatical errors on the listing, IDs that are barely legible and landlords who want to conduct the entire process virtually, refusing video calls.
Bagnick encourages renters to do their research and reach out to an agent if they’re unsure about a listing’s legitimacy.
“It’s definitely not a situation I want myself or any of my clients or friends to be put in either,” Bagnick said, “and that’s why I wanted it to be put out there.”
Read more about how to protect yourself from fraud here.