Real estate scams on the rise as the popularity of Chattanooga's North Shore increases

Image: WTVC

Experts say a certain type of real estate scam is popping up more in places like Chattanooga's North Shore.

A realtor we spoke with says this type of scam is becoming more common as the area becomes more desirable.

He says if you're looking for a place to rent online and you find a deal that seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Kevin Wamack says families are zoned for good schools in North Shore neighborhoods.

"You're also convenient to Riverview park," he said. "It's great community."

So, when a two bedroom, two bath home popped up on craigslist for $500 a month, several people were interested.

"I have had multiple phone calls and multiple emails," Wamack said.

The problem is the home isn't for rent. Wamack is in the process of selling it.

He says a scammer took the pictures and information he posted and put it on craigslist, cheap.

"They hope that somebody's knee jerk reaction is going to say 'oh this is great. We want to get it really quick before someone else does,'" Wamack said.

Jim Winsett with the better business bureau says, "This kind of activity becomes more active in the summer months."

He says more people move during the summer and others are trying to find vacation rentals.

"When scams occur with rental properties it's usually a low price that's attractive," he said. "It probably should raise a red flag right away."

Luckily it did to the people Womack says corresponded with the scammer.

In emails, the scammer gave two different reasons why he couldn't meet in person.

"It was able to catch them before they sent the money," he said.

Homeowner's names can be found on property tax records.

In this particular case, the scammer was going by the owner's name, but backwards: Burke Edward.

"It's also upsetting that someone would be willing to go that far to scam someone," he said.

If you're trying to rent any home, the BBB recommends you:

  1. Meet the landlord
  2. Check Google maps to make sure the property exists
  3. Look up the address to make sure it's not posted elsewhere

Wamack says that the scam posts usually pop up the day after he posts a house for sale online.

He says that makes his job harder because he has to monitor those and get them taken down.

The post of the house he is selling at 803 Young Ave. has been taken down.

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