Officials with the Stafford Township Police Department are warning residents and local realtors of what they are calling a scam involving homeowners who have listed their homes for sale.
Lt. Thomas Dellane told the Patch that there have been three instances recently reported of houses that are listed for sale on legitimate websites, that have been reposted on Craig's list as "rental."
Typically, the person reposting the material "gives a detailed story of the owner being relocated for work or is on an extended vacation around the world and is subsequently renting the property," Dellane noted.
Once the scam artist establishes contact with a victim, they instruct them to send the first month’s rent as well as the security deposit via Western Union or some other means of payment to an address outside of the United States.
Dellane said police wanted to warn people about the scam because "the reality is, once your money leaves this country, the reality of getting it back is pretty slim."
According to officials with the Ocean County Board of Realtors, this scam has been circulating for a number of years, especially on websites like Craig's List, where people will send in their money or credit cards as a deposit on a home, but never get the keys in exchange for their "deposit."
Stafford Police advise those searching for housing:
- Consult with local realtors.
- Print out advertisements and all important information.
- Ask the person you negotiate with for their credentials, i.e. realtor, homeowner, etc.
- Avoid cash exchanges.
- Ask neighbors if they are familiar with the homeowners.
If you have been the victim of a scam, or if you have any questions regarding possible scams, you should contact your local and county authorities or call Stafford Township Police Department at 609-597-8581.