Beware of rising online rental listing scams

John Sabina nearly fell prey to scammers while looking for good deal

By Christina Vazquez - Reporter

MIAMI - When John Sabina was in the market for a house rental he searched online listings and stumbled upon a great home in the Country Walk area of Miami-Dade County.

"I saw the listing on Zumper," he explained, "and it had the pictures, it had the address, it had description and it had the contact name. It sounded like it was very realistic."

The contact name matched county records as the registered homeowner.

"It looked so legit that I went ahead and contacted him to try to get the apartment," said Sabina.

In emails the person told Sabina they didn't live in the U.S. anymore. The supposed homeowner had moved to Scotland and said the monthly rental price was $1,400, utilities included. That price gave Sabina pause.

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SIGNS OF A SCAM

1. Rental rates are too good to be true

2. Requests for a deposit before signing a lease

3. Owner stating they are out of the country

Read this for more tips

"Most four-bedrooms in that area run around two thousand or more. Because it was so inexpensive, the fourteen hundred, that was a cause for me to question it."

Sabina contacted his sister Juliana Sabina Morejon who is a realtor with the Keller Williams-Coral Gables/Coconut Grove office.

She located Ruben Dubuc; the listing agent for the property Sabina was interested.

WATCH THIS: Realtor talks about common signs of online rental listing scam

"Well I was surprised and then I got worried because the person that called me quoted a completely different rental rate," explained Dubuc, "It was actually half of the rental rate. I said yeah, that's something that is fishy."

Dubuc said the home had already been rented and the homeowner wasn't a man who lived in Scotland. She's a doctor, she lives in town.

 "I was in shock," said Sabina.

The person Sabina was corresponding with wanted him to send money through a website called DepositProtection.com It's a service for landlords in England and Wales. According to a company spokesman they do not offer deposit protection services outside the UK and do not offer any kind of realty services.

Follow Local 10 News investigative reporter Christina Vazquez @CallChristinaTV

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