It sounded like an incredible deal: a 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom house in Miami Gardens available to rent for $1,200.
“$1,200 for a 4-bedroom house, we all know that’s impossible here,” said Ana Lorenzo, a South Florida realtor.
Lorenzo, who put the house up for sale, said she became concerned after a woman recently contacted her asking if the house was up for rent.
“I said no, the house is actually for sale,” Lorenzo said. “And she said ‘it’s awkward because I just emailed the owner and he tells me the house is for rent. I don’t know the area so I decided to drop by and just saw your number. “
The woman who contacted Lorenzo didn’t want to go on camera, but told NBC 6 Responds she saw the house for rent on Facebook Marketplace and decided to dig before sending money or filling out the request she had received. Lorenzo said that when she found out what was going on with the photos on her legit list, she decided to do her own research.
“I told him to give me the email address and phone number,” Lorenzo said. “And of course I went there, did my detective work and realized it was a scam.”
She said they sent her a request asking for personal details, including a photo of her photo ID. She said she was also asked to send a $1,200 security deposit to hold the house. When she told the person she knew it was a scam, she said the communication had stopped.
“I’m worried people will lose money to these scams,” Lorenzo said. “These are people desperately looking for a place to live.”
NBC 6 Responds went to Facebook Marketplace and found several suspicious listings, advertising homes for rent well below market value, including one for a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home, apparently in Miami Beach, for 1,200 $ per month. After our team requested more information from the person who posted the house on Facebook Marketplace, the listing was removed. But not before we were able to save the footage. We used them to do an image search on Google and found a match: a listing in central Florida owned by Rebecca Redman-Hamaoui.
“I was very surprised,” she said.
Redman-Hamaoui is the owner broker of Bella Trae Realty. She said the house shown in the pictures we sent her was for rent in Davenport, Florida.
“4 hours probably north of Miami Beach,” she said.
She also said it was rented for $2,400 a month. She had no idea that images from her legit roster were being used in this way until NBC 6 contacted her, she said.
“There is, unfortunately, nothing stopping people from removing these photos from our website, other legitimate third-party websites,” she said.
“It upsets me for what could happen,” she added. “It bothers me to think that someone might be scammed.”
Facebook referred NBC 6 to their policies, which say, in part, that they “…remove content that deliberately misleads, willfully misrepresents, or otherwise defrauds or exploits others for money or property.” On its website, the company states that it “…encourages people to report suspicious behavior in advertisements…” You can learn more about how to do this by clicking here.
The company also shared links to resources on how to shop safely on Facebook and how to avoid scams on the platform.
Facebook did not specifically respond to questions from NBC 6 about how some people are using their Marketplace to post fake rental ads.
“What Facebook is really doing now is deleting these posts as soon as they’re flagged,” said Cinthya Lavin, spokeswoman for the Better Business Bureau.
Lavin added that if you’re looking for a rental, “it’s up to the consumer to be very, very careful.”
Beware of a list that is significantly cheaper than what exists. According to Zillow, the average cost of a rental in the Miami metro area exceeded $2,800 in July.
Also beware of someone who only wants to communicate via text or email.
Finally, if they pressure you to submit an application or send money, without speaking to them or seeing the house in person, that’s likely a sign you’re dealing with a scam.