Sheriff Jay Russell Warns of Real Estate Scam
Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Investigators are investigating reports of a nationwide scam involving renting or buying houses online.
Scammers are taking information from legitimate real estate listings from real estate sites and then posting the information on Facebook Marketplace and Zillow, falsely representing themselves as the owners of the listed property. In some cases, they have used fake identification and even the real owner’s name. The common indicator that it is a scam is that they ask for payment to be sent electronically via Bitcoin, cash cards or other 3rd party payment methods.
To Help Protect You Against Fraud:
Be suspicious of anyone who asks for a cash deposit upfront to see the property. Ensure you are dealing with the real property owner before negotiating rental terms or seeing a property in person. You can check records with the local Tax Assessor’s office to find out who the current property owner is and look for their contact information online.
Avoid doing transactions via email or on the phone. It’s best to be face-to-face to confirm the property ownership, sign any required documents, and make any payment. Use a check (never cash) to make a payment so that you have a record of it. NEVER make payments using Bitcoin, cash cards or other 3rd party payment methods.
Always insist on speaking with the property owner before signing a contract or making a payment if someone says they are representing the owner. If someone claims to be a real estate agent, ask to see their license and take a picture of it so that you can confirm the information online with the state division of real estate licensing.