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Looking for a home to rent? Beware this scam

Scammers use fake ads to lure renters

The Better Business Bureau is warning people in the market to rent a home this summer to be on guard for con artists using false advertisements.

"They're using real listings and changing the phone numbers and changing the name of the owners so that people think they are getting a really good deal in the area," realtor Bobette Gonzalez told CBS News' Hena Doba.

The scammers take pictures from actual real estate listings and create fake ads to lure consumers. In one case, a Houston home originally listed for $2,300 per month ended up in a fake listing on Facebook with a rent of $800.

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The Better Business Bureau says scammers often try to get people to rent a property sight unseen.

"Everything is done by phone or email and they ask for the money to be wired ahead of time," said Katherine Hutt of the Better Business Bureau. "Usually they are asking for some kind of a payment that is not traceable -- a wire transfer, a prepaid debit card, that kind of thing -- and once the money is sent it's gone. We really urge people to look out for this one."

Here are some red flags to look out for if you're planning on renting a home:

  • The "too good" deal: If the rent seems too low or location too good for the price, do your homework. See if the apartment or home is being advertised elsewhere or if you can track down the phone number or email of the person listing the place.
  • Open house: If possible, go see the place in person, or ask a friend or person you trust to check it out for you.
  • Sending money without a contract: Never send money if you haven't met the person renting the home, and make sure the paperwork is in order before turning over a deposit.

-- CBS News' Jillian Harding contributed reporting