According to a San Francisco Chronicle article, there's been a rise in rental scams brought about by the large number of vacant homes. Prospective renters are getting swindled out of deposits by individuals posing as landlords, and it's pretty tough to catch the criminals.
So here's how it works: the fake landlord passes off a vacant home or property as his/her own, duping a would-be renter out of the deposit, which is usually paid in cash. Although it's not a new crime, the confluence of tough economic times and readily available vacant properties is making this an ever more popular scam.
Folks who are looking to rent should be aware of this scam and take steps to avoid falling victim to it. Ask for proof of property ownership and avoid paying the deposit in cash, which makes it hard to track down a landlord impersonator.
Have you heard of anyone getting swindled by this kind of rental scam?