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Rental scam stays up a week after being reported by landlord

Rental scam stays up a week after being reported by landlord
Rental scam stays up a week after being reported by landlord 01:55

SACRAMENTO -- After waiting more than a week for Zillow to take down a fraudulent listing of her property, a Sacramento landlord called on Kurtis Ming to investigate.  

It all started when someone showed up at Elvira Gonzalez's house asking to see the rental after seeing an ad that she didn't put up.

"I'm afraid somebody is going to show up in my back yard, or my front yard, looking to rent my house or with a move-in truck," she said.

Someone had duplicated an ad that Elvira posted on Zillow earlier, but also included her full name and was requiring applicants to submit $1,200 - sixty percent of the first month's rent - to secure the property.

Elvira reached out to Zillow but says it took more than a week for them to take down the ad.

"It's a really prevalent scam," says Erin Stumpf, president of the Sacramento Association of Realtors. Adding that it happens to her listings, too, "probably more often than not" on Craigslist.

It is easy to post a fraudulent ad. Much like Craigslist, it's free to post on platforms like Zillow and its sister sites, Truila and Hotpads. And, as Zillow advertises it, it just takes three easy steps.

So CBS13 asked Zillow, how credible are listings on their sites?

A company representative didn't answer that question directly but told us, "our teams monitor activity on the site in a number of different ways, actively screening for possible fraud or scams."

In this case, the representative told CBS13 that it took longer than the normal one to two days to take down the fraudulent ad because they say the scammer kept trying to prove they owned the property.

That still doesn't bring much comfort to Elvira.

"My name is out there," she said. "And people who may have gotten scammed may think that I'm the one that did it."

At this point, though, Elvira says no one has come forward.

But how do you know which ads are legit?

The general agreement among experts is that low prices and demands for money up front are red flags. And always be sure to tour the place in person before handing over any money.  

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