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Lake Worth Beach woman calls Contact 5 after almost falling for rental scam  

'I was pretty sure it was too good to be true but it was a two-bedroom apartment for $800 a month,' says Kyle Cohen  
Posted at 4:31 PM, Jul 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-14 17:48:21-04

LAKE WORTH BEACH, Fla. — Earlier this week, WPTV told you about a warning from Attorney General Ashley Moody about an increase in vacation rental scams during the summer months. A viewer who saw our story called Contact 5 because she almost fell for an alleged rental scam the day before.  

“I saw your story and I said wow, I wonder if they want to follow up with a real live scam,” Kyle Cohen, who lives in Lake Worth Beach, told WPTV.  

That’s why she called Contact 5, after she thought she found her dream West Palm Beach home on Facebook Marketplace.  

“I was pretty sure it was too good to be true but it was a two-bedroom apartment for $800 a month,” Cohen said.  

The alleged landlord sent Cohen several pictures, showing a brand new, modern home.  

“The pictures were absolutely gorgeous,” Cohen said. 

The alleged landlord wouldn’t give her the address and told her in an email: “You must pay the first month rent and security deposit to Airbnb. If you don’t like the property, Airbnb agents will refund your money on the spot.”  

However, Airbnb warns consumers of this type of correspondence, when business is being done off the Airbnb site.  

A representative from the company told us in an email: “We see this a lot where scammers throw out 'Airbnb,' because we're a trusted platform and they feel like mentioning our name lends them credibility. But the reality is it is not an Airbnb reservation unless you're booking on Airbnb.com or the Airbnb app, in which case we handle all payments (which deters scams). We do not do "invoices" or security deposits, nor do we have agents on the ground like this guy says.” 

“She wants my information but she was reluctant to even give me the address of the place. So, I was like with my information, she could wipe me out,” Cohen said.  

These are all warnings signs of a rental scam, according to a new alert from Attorney General Ashley Moody. 

“Fake ads for rental properties are all over the internet,” Moody said.

Moody’s office says consumers should check to see if the photos of the rental property are affiliated with other listings by using a reverse image search. Use a reputable website that offers protection in the event of fraud. And if the landlord only gives you an email address or a foreign phone number, that’s a big red flag.  

“If somebody is offering you something, make them show you proof that they own the place. If it’s legitimate, they will have some way of showing you proof of their ownership,” Cohen said.  

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