Although mortgage fraud is harder since the financial crisis, many of those would-be crooks have moved on to the next real-estate related scam: Using all those vacant properties to rip-off renters by posting bogus craigslist adds and posing as the owners or property managers. Fortunately, the California Bureau of Real Estate has issued, in my opinion, a great cheat-sheet that anyone looking to rent a home, and avoid a scam, should read.
The brochure can be found here. But the main points of the brochure follow the idea that you should check public records for licenses, look in county records for foreclosures, be wary of anyone who won’t meet in person, and be skeptical of anything that is too good to be true (sage advice!).
The brochure finishes with the message: Most importantly, trust your instincts and common sense. If you have a feeling that something isn’t right, call the Bureau of Real Estate at (877) 373-4542 or go to www.calbre.ca.gov.
Real estate can be dangerous business. Before you drop a deposit, it is a good idea to do spend a little money and time to do some research.