The New Rental Scam

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Scammers are getting more sophisticated, Tisha Thompson reports. (Published Friday, Sep 14, 2012)

    A member of the U.S. Navy thought he found a great deal online when he tried to move to the D.C. area to work at the Pentagon.

    A one bedroom, furnished apartment in Arlington.  Utilities included.

    The sailor filled out this application.  All he had to do?  Send in $2,500 to cover the first month’s rent and security deposit to the owner, Sol Gordon.

    “When you Google Solovin Gordon, I’m it,” says Sol Gordon.

    But the real Sol Gordon says he doesn’t own the property in Arlington.  “I have no idea where that is,” the insurance salesman from Montgomery Village, Md., says.

    “They’re using my wonderful mug,” he says looking at the on-line listing.  “I had a beard then."

    Because the scammer plucked Gordon's name and picture off the web.

    Assistant Special Agent in Charge Trent Teyema says the FBI has people working on these types of complaints every day.  “In fact, today, I received three just before our meeting,” he says.  “It’s upping the game, making it look more sophisticated and tying it to reality, when in fact it is fraud.”

    Teyema says scammers are getting more sophisticated, using elaborate teams around the world.  "For the local police, they don't have the resources to necessarily trace it down to another country."

    The NEWS4 I-Team found the phone number used in Gordon's ad also listed in New York and Miami Beach rentals.

    "I hate to think about these people who were conned thinking about my name ‘Sol Gordon,’” the real Gordon says.  He’s worried they’re going to say, “Look what he did to me."

    The FBI does go after these crooks when there are multiple victims. But victims must file a complaint here.

    You can protect yourself.

    Check property records to make sure the person advertising owns the place.

    Visit the property or have a friend do it for you.

    Never wire any cash.  Most owners will accept checks.

    And find out the base rate for similar rentals.

    As Gordon points out, the scammers are “charging $1000 for this unit.  That is too cheap and it's almost too good to be true."

    The man interested in the apartment uncovered the scam after he Googled "Sol Gordon" looking for a phone number and called the real one.

    Good thing.  When we went to check out the dream apartment, we discovered Unit 1338 doesn’t exist.  The apartment complex doesn’t even have a 13th floor.

    In Arlington, Tisha Thompson, NEWS4 I-Team.