Las Vegas Metro police warn against rental scams

Las Vegas Metro police warn against rental scams

By Marco Villarreal. CREATED Oct 27, 2011

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) - Thousands of homes are sitting empty across the Valley, many in foreclosure,  many being sold,  and some being used by thieves hoping to rip you off.

The foreclosures represent for some a sign of the bad Las Vegas economy. For others an opportunity to steal money from people looking for a good deal.

These crimes fall under fraud which makes it really hard for police to catch criminals, and for victims to get their money back.

Now law enforcement is speaking out against it.

"I've seen it increasing not just in our community, but it's increasing at a national level," says Lt. Susan Shingleton with the Metro Financial Crimes Bureau.

And with Las Vegas leading the nation in foreclosures...Metro says the opportunities for fraud are greater. Those looking to rent a home can fall victim to the first type of con artist... A supposed landlord renting out other people's homes.

"They look very clean cut, they have that gift of gab, they have the ability to reach out and convince you to trust them," says Shingleton.

That's why renters need to be smarter than the scammers. They should ask for identification, proof of home ownership, or that they're with a legitimate property management. Metro says never to bring cash to a meeting until you're positive the house they're renting out is theirs.

The second type of con artist just picks a home they like.

"They just move in. They just simply move in and then they'll dummy up a receipt or create a receipt to make it look like they're the victim," Says Lt. Shingleton.

Homeowners should do frequent checks of their empty homes, or ask neighbors to keep an eye out. Either way Metro admits that frauds are tough to catch and prosecute. Homeowners or renters who lose thousands of dollars may never see that money again, and some may even end up homeless.

"I mean it's not just about money, sometimes it's about where they live, it's about where your kids live and where your kids go to school," says Shingleton.

Metro did tell us that although it is hard to catch these scammers, but they do have a few cases right now where they are getting close to making some arrests. They do stress though, it is far better to protect yourself than fall victim to someone else.