COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Now is a time of movement and shuffling between apartments and houses, especially as the coronavirus may throw a wrench into many people’s plans for the fall.
Scammers may come in many forms, and now is a time when they’re really trying to swindle money out of people through real estate.
“Anytime there is an economic crisis, or the current pandemic situation, people take advantage of vulnerable situations. So anytime something like this happens we start to see a rise in scams and the real estate industry," said TM5 realtor Kathy Allen.
Once someone obtains your checking information with your routing and accounting number, they can make transactions without your consent.
These scams show up on many platforms, and one person in an A&M Facebook housing and sublease group was approached by two scammers within the last month.
“She had messaged me and told me that she had gotten a new job in College Station and was needing an apartment. She didn’t ask for any pictures or anything so that kind of threw me off a little bit. She asked if she could send a check to me because she said that her dad had just gotten on life support, and she was going to fly to Georgia, so after that everything just kind of started moving downhill," said TAMU Sublease and Housing Facebook group member Olivia Keefer.
Scammers will send blank checks and then ask for a smaller amount in exchange to cover any kind of “fee.” they make up. The person being scammed will think they are coming out on top because they received the original check, not knowing it was blank.
“Once they send a check, they’re asking you to pay for things, if they ask you for a credit card number, now they have your checking account, and your credit card information and they just kind of go to town at that point with your finances," said Allen.
In Olivia’s case, the scammer asked her to pay a mover’s fee.
After doing some research on the group, she found out she wasn’t the only one being scammed.
“When I saw it, I was so in shock. Well she had a different profile so I was like she’s really into scamming people. It wasn’t the same profile picture or anything. But she used the same name, so I don't know where that name is coming from. I just hoped that nobody actually fell for it and deposited the check because, I was really close to depositing it, no it’s not a good idea, I can’t afford this right now," said Keefer.
One of the safe ways of ensuring the security of your real estate exchange is by obtaining a Texas real estate contract to protect all parties involved.
The biggest red flags for these transactions will be when someone is asking you to send any kind of electronic payment and asking for any banking and personal information.