CHICAGO (CBS) — A suburban realtor says enough is enough – he is sick of scammers using his listings to trick people.
They pose as a landlord or realtor and try to get prospective renters to send funds for a deposit or rent.
CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas met one almost-victim who caught the warning signs. But not everyone is so lucky.
“The rent was $800, which is extremely low,” said Ileana Montalvo.
Montalvo is a college student looking for her own place for the first time.
“I ended up going on Facebook – like I thought if they sell cars, furniture, stuff like that, like what’s the difference with houses?” Montalvo said.
She found a Facebook Marketplace posting for a three-bedroom house in Romeoville – including free internet, according to the poster.
Montalvo exchanged emails with the guy who posted it, in which he boasted that all the utilities are included with the $800 rent.
“I wanted to see the house,” Montalvo said. “I wanted to see if they’ll let me inside – and that’s when they stopped responding to me.”
So she drove out and found the name and number of a realtor named Neil Gates. She called him and he said the place is for sale – not rent – and he did not post anything to Facebook.
Gates said a few other people reached out to him over the past week about the rental listing.
“It makes you feel sick that people are out there wanting to take people’s money,” Gates said. “Just sad is how it makes you feel.”
Montalvo dug a little deeper and dodged a bullet. But Gates said just a couple years ago, someone posted another one of his listings for rent online. He showed up at that house and found a family unpacking a U-Haul.
“They were out their security deposit and first month’s rent,” Gates said.
If you are dealing with someone who claims to be a real estate broker, you can look up their license on the state’s website. Experts say if the listing seems too good to be true, it probably is.
“Think of what you’re doing to other people. These are people who are looking for a place to stay, and they’re struggling,” Montalvo said. “It’s really hard sometimes to find a good place to stay.”
Gates said the house did wind up selling earlier this week. He hopes the buyers are the only ones paying for it.
Meanwhile, that Facebook Marketplace posting has been taken down. We emailed the guy who was in touch with Montalvo to try to learn more about him and his post, but we had not heard back as of Wednesday morning.