Fake home listings a growing problem in Austin

Some home listings in Austin are fraudulent.

Scammers are tricking people into thinking a place is for sale or rent, but it's not.

If you go to sites like Trulia, Zillow and Craigslist, you can find thousands of homes listed on there.

Although most of them are real, there's a big portion that are not.

A three-bedroom two-bath ranch style home for rent in North Austin, with a price tag of only $700 a month.

Sounds like a steal.

"It was actually really cute and cozy looking," says Anna Rider, found bogus listing.

Anna Rider was looking for homes last week when she came across one online.

After responding to the ad, she received an email.

The person states that he and his wife moved out of the house to do missionary work for the next six years and were looking for someone to rent it.

"There were no signs up front and there were obviously occupants residing there. So right off the bat I knew it was too good to be true," says Rider.

With the housing market booming in Austin, if you find a house with a good deal we're told it's probably too good to be true.

Something that realtor Michael Harrell is all too familiar with.

"If you see something in the area while you're doing your own internet search, and everything is $1500 a month and all of a sudden you see one for $900, that's a red flag," says Michael Harrell, realtor for The Harrell Group, Keller Williams.

He says it's a conversation he has with every client to protect them.

"You try to prevent it from happening again. Educate them, you work with your clients. They call you as the listing agent at times after they have been defrauded and scammed looking for resolution but there's none at that point," says Harrell.

The Austin Police Department says they've received several reports of property scams, especially right now because of South by Southwest.

Rider made sure to tell that to the scammer.

"I said, 'I reported this to APD and I reported it to Trulia.' That's when his response was 'blah, blah, blah,'" says Rider.

Scammers could end up paying the consequences.

"If they get to the point where they're taking money for a property that's not theirs and that they have no intention of renting or don't have any control over, then that would be theft," says Officer Alan Goodwin, Austin Police Department.

The New Braunfels Police Department made a post to Facebook also warning residents of the scam.

If you think you are being targeted by a scammer police ask that you call 311, as well as contact the online rental site so they can take the ad down.

In this case, that was done.

If you're wanting to check if a listing is actually for sale or rent, you can call:

Michael Harrell

The Harrell Group

Keller William Realty


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