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Scammers leave doors open for would-be tenants to tour homes

Posted at 8:05 PM, Oct 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-03 23:05:20-04

PHOENIX — Dustin Styles has been looking for a home to rent for the better part of this year. But what does he think of these prices?

"Oh they're crazy," he smiled.

When he saw an online ad for a house in north Phoenix at a good price, he called to inquire right away.

Styles says the guy on the other end of the phone told him to go ahead over to the house and go in the back door.

"The gate was unlocked and the back door was unlocked exactly like they said," Styles said.

He was told to fill out an application and wire his deposit. It wasn't long before he realized something did not seem right.

"I was doing the application and they wanted me to go Coinstar. I was like there's another way to do it? I never did that," he said.

And that is a huge red flag according to Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

"A legitimate property management company is not going to ask you to wire money or pay gift cards," said Brnovich.

It turns out the house Styles toured wasn't even for rent, it was for sale. But somehow the scammers got access to open the back door. Another red flag as Styles looks back.

Brnovich said there are even cases of people paying fees and moving into homes before the real owners find them and have to kick them out.

"Because the housing prices have gone up, more people are looking to rent. The crooks and con artists see it as an opportunity. You have to be vigilant," Brnovich said.

This year, the Better Business Bureau ranked Phoenix as the fourth city with the most rental scams in a major city.

Luckily Styles did not send any money. But another month has passed and he's still looking for a place to live.

If you fall victim to a rental scam, you can report it to the Attorney General on his website: