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People still getting drawn into rental scam | News

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People still getting drawn into rental scam

LAS VEGAS -- Con artists continue to rent out foreclosed homes they have no business renting because they don't own the home. People are falling for the scam on Craigslist and losing their money.

The con artist trying to rent out a bank-owned home met the would-be tenant in the parking lot of a home improvement store, that should have been a red flag.

Now signs are posted here warning the home is not for rent. Realtor Heidi Watt checks on her bank-owned property that is for sale in North Las Vegas.

"This is a really nice house. You can see it has wood floors." Watt said.

However, criminals also have their eye on this home too.

An agent recently discovered the for sale sign was gone from the front yard and the lockboxes cut off.

"I said, 'oh my gosh, here we go again.'" Watt said.

A woman last month tried to move into a house, but police stopped her. Her first month's rent and security deposit are gone, taken by fraudsters.

"They're advertising it on Craigslist as a deal that is almost too good to be true," Watt said.

In March, 8 News NOW had the story about Watts' other listings that were essentially hijacked by fraudsters on Craigslist.

A man, who moved into a North Las Vegas home from California, had to vacate. But the people who signed a sham lease to move into this home in Desert Shores have refused to leave.

They are living rent-free. Watt gets the power cut off, they turn it back on. The bank is in the process of evicting them.

"Ultimately, the police really can't do anything because it is not up to them to determine is a lease is valid or is it not valid. That is a civil matter," Watt said.

"If it is too good to be true, it probably is. And if that's the case, do a little more research on it," Metro Police officer Jesse Roybal said.

Metro Police say officers will get more training in learning how to handle these scams when they do happen. The department says the public can take steps so they won't happen.

"Research on our county assessor's page. Find out who the owner is. One of the things we're talking about, go talk to the neighbors of these potential homes you want to rent and find out is the home vacant, has it been foreclosed on?" Ofc. Roybal said.

As Watt leaves the home, she has the neighbors on watch for any shady business.

As 8 News NOW reported in March, several of these Craigslist listings initially connected would-be renters to a company called First House Financial.

It took several weeks for that company to get back to us, but in an e-mail, a representative says they are not connected with any rental scam and that what happened to Watts' ads is extremely rare.

To check the assessor's page, go to clarkcountynv.gov.