February 24, 2024

CLANTON, Ala. (WBRC) – One local realtor is sharing a word of caution to anyone looking for homes online after a couple was scammed out of their money.

There are scams for just about everything these days, but after a couple lost thousands of dollars, one realtor says says the story drives home the importance of staying safe while house hunting online.

“This is the first time I’ve ever had something like this egregious. I mean somebody basically just stole $2,000 from these people,” says Realtor Cody Cummings.

Cummings has been a realtor for seven years. He’s seen countless scams in the housing industry, but says he’s never seen someone fall victim until he recently got a strange call from one of his clients who’s selling their Clanton home.

“They were like ‘were supposed to meet Anthony here, we’re going to be renting this house on February 7′,” as Cummings recounted what the couple told his client.

Cummings client explained to the couple that the house wasn’t for rent, and only after the couple began to show him online messages did everyone realize that couple had been duped.

“He starts to look at this guy’s profile and realized that basically this random person had found the listing on Facebook Marketplace, ripped the photos down, put them back up as a rental, and had been shopping this thing as a rental and telling people that there was a $2,000 deposit,” Cummings said.

Cummings says one rule stays the same when it comes to buying and renting.

“As a rule, if you don’t have legal paperwork, don’t send people money, and usually it’s not going to be through these third party companies, Zelle, Cashapp, you know it’s a check or there’s a wire or something like that,” Cummings said.

If you don’t do your due diligence, Cummings says you could unfortunately end up in the same situation as this couple.

“There’s shockingly little amount of recourse to be done, especially in situations like this, because we don’t even know who the person is, who are they? Fake name, no pictures, there’s just no information other than a Zelle account,” said Cummings.

Cummings says another good rule of thumb is to vet the person or agency listing a house for rent. Make sure they’re a legitimate company or verify the person is the legitimate owner of the home through property records.

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