Wildwood Crest police investigating rental scams

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Wildwood Crest police investigating rental scams. Trish Hartman reports during Action News at 6 p.m. on July 12, 2018. (WPVI)

When it comes to finding the perfect shore rental, many people start their search online.

That includes Virginia Ostaszewski of Northeast Philadelphia.

"We were looking through rentals, actually through Facebook, and then the AirBnB popped up and it had good ratings," said Ostaszewski.

Police in Wildwood Crest say rental scams are up this summer and about 80 percent of the cases they're investigating have been from fraudulent listings on Craigslist.

"They can clone the ad that's on the rental site. They'll clone it, just make another ad, change the owner's name and change the phone number and email address," said Det. Sgt. Jon Weigand with the Wildwood Crest Police Department.

Police held a community forum about the issue last month to make people aware of some red flags.

That includes the promise of over-the-top amenities at a lower rate that's normal in the area.

"So if you're trying to rent a place for $1,700 with a lot of amenities and you see an ad that has the same amenities as that $1,700 ad for $1,100, there's probably something going on there," said Weigand.

Their suggestions: have someone check out the property for you to make sure it exists, and try to make contact with the property owner. That's exactly what Morgan Fuller of Media, Pa. did when she found her family's summer rental.

"The owner gave me his cell phone number. I could contact him any time I needed to," said Fuller.

We reached out to Craigslist and so far we haven't heard back.

Right on Craigslist.org there's a section on avoiding scams. Among their tips: deal locally, never wire money to a seller or use a third party, and never rent a property sight unseen.

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