In the market to rent a home or apartment? The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office wants you to be on the lookout for scammers advertising fake listings on popular websites.

Scammers often advertise rentals that don’t exist or aren’t available to trick people into sending money before they find out the truth, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

JSO investigators say prospective renters have been tricked into sending money through electronic transfer services like Cash App, Paypal, or Zelle after contacting scammers, most of whom are not located in the U.S.

Signs of a Scam

They tell you to wire money

This is the surest sign of a scam. There’s never a good reason to wire money to pay a security deposit, application fee, first month’s rent, or vacation rental fee. That’s true even if they send you a contract first. Wiring money is the same as sending cash — once you send it, you have no way to get it back.

They want a security deposit or first month’s rent before you’ve met or signed a lease

It’s never a good idea to send money to someone you’ve never met in person for an apartment you haven’t seen. If you can’t visit an apartment or house yourself, ask someone you trust to go and confirm that it’s for rent, and that it is what was advertised. In addition to setting up a meeting, do a search on the owner and listing. If you find the same ad listed under a different name, that’s a clue it may be a scam.

They say they’re out of…

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