OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) --There's a big problem in the Bay Area -- imposters are renting out homes that aren't even theirs then disappearing with the deposit or the first month's rent. ABC7 News was there when a real landlord confronted a woman she says is trying to rip off renters.
When Manuela Sanchez found out an imposter was showing her Oakland rental home and asking for a deposit, she decided to show up instead of the potential victim. The woman who arrived at the house told her she was the agent named Nicole. The real Nicole told Sanchez someone had changed the locks on the house and was showing it to unsuspecting tenants.
While our cameras were waiting inside the house, the woman posing as the rental agent tried to get in with her own key, but she couldn't because the real owner had already changed the locks.
"So it's interesting to me that it's sort of a coincidence that before the open house you're here with no keys," said Sanchez.
Sanchez: "And do you have an ID on you?"
Sanchez: "No you don't? Well, that's too bad because that would be helpful. An innocent person wouldn't have a problem to show me their ID, I would think."
Woman: "Yeah, I don't have one."
Sanchez: "Yeah, but see, we have your license plate number at this point."
Later, we showed the intended victim a photo of the woman and she positively identified the woman. The potential tenant says the imposter asked her to bring a blank money order to the meeting.
Sanchez: "What was the name you were supposed to write it out to?"
Potential tenant: "Blank."
Sanchez: "She said to leave it blank. How much was the money order?"
Potential tenant: "Whatever I have. She didn't care."
Sanchez: "She didn't care? Wow. OK."
Potential tenant: "She said $1,000-$2,000."
Sanchez says the Oakland Police Department told her it could not investigate unless she caught the imposter in the act. So she took it to heart and now she hopes she has a case for the police to look into.
There are some red flags to watch out for when renting a home. A lot of these imposters ask for the deposit or first month's rent in the form of a money order or a cashier's check and they may ask you to write it out to someone else. They may ask you to mail it to an address you're not familiar with and often times, the rent is below the market average, which is too good to be true.