Rent fraud occurrences rising in Bay Area

A number of rental property listings in the Bay Area in California are fraudulent, according to a report by the San Jose Mercury News, which exemplifies one way in which prospective renters have been cheated in the last year.

The paper states many schemes involving advertising foreclosed or vacant properties for rent have taken place in recent months in the Bay Area, leading to numerous applicants losing money after sending the listers deposit checks.

Several area renters have filed complaints with the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office, stating they paid the deposit and first month's rent and moved into the apartment, only to find out shortly after they had been scammed.

According to the report, many of the scammers who put up the phony listings say they're out of the country for some reason and thus can't show the apartment to the prospective renters beforehand. Some trust this claim, sign rental lease agreements and have lost thousands of dollars doing so.

Craigslist has been used in many of these scams, the newspaper states. The site has been used for apartment fraud in other areas of the country as well. Reports say a supposed landlord in Salem, Massachusetts, cheated eight applicants for his apartment out of $11,000.