MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - A local realtor has a warning for anyone looking to buy, sell or rent property along the Grand Strand.
Scammers are taking a real property listing and making it look like it’s a cheap rental. The person advertising the property as a rental isn’t who they say they are. Plus, it isn’t even for rent, but for sale with a licensed realtor.
Eve Mahon, a licensed realtor with Berkshire Hathway HomeServices, is the listing agent for a property in Forestbrook. Mahon said she was made aware of the scam when the person who found the rental advertisement on Facebook Marketplace contacted her.
“So you could easily pull pictures from Zillow or Realtor.com, save them to your desktop and add them to whatever you like," Mahon said. "So unfortunately, it’s going to be hard to track him and as this is happening, we’re going back and trying to find him as well and the posts are being deleted or popping up somewhere else.”
Jordyn Hickerson was interested in the property and found the scammer on Facebook Marketplace. She said the scammer asked her to fill out a rental application that asks for personal information, like date of birth, address, and even employers. She said the interesting part is he didn’t ask for money, which she thought was weird but made the person seem more trusting.
But Hickerson was persistent.
“I asked if he could provide me proof. He owned the house and from there he sent me a link to tax documents, which everyone can get so I used that to look up the full name of the owner," Hickerson said.
People can look up information on Horry County land records, which lists the name of the owner.
Hickerson said she asked the scammer for any type of documentation showing he was who he said he was. Then, she said, the scammer sent her a copy of a passport with the real owner’s name.
Mahon added the name on the passport is real, but the photo isn’t and believes it could be the scammer.
The scammer also sent Hickerson an email explaining why they’re choosing to rent after originally having it for sale. The email contains poor grammar, which many scam experts say is a warning sign.
In the email, the scammer also said, “you need not to discuss anything with anybody when you go and check the house.”
Hickerson went to the house, and when she arrived, the red flags escalated.
“I talked to the neighbors first because I know sometimes people do have that back and forth of maybe I do want to rent it, but once the neighbor gave me the indication that he’s never seen a man as a tenant there, that’s when I was like this is not right," she said.
Hickerson came out of this situation unscathed. She said she didn’t fill out the application, give any personal information or money. But she wants to spread awareness about this scammer being out there.
For Mahon, her biggest message to anyone looking at properties is to contact a professional.
Mahon said she filed a report with Horry County police.
WMBF News reached out to HCPD and we’re waiting for details about how they handle specific cases like this one.
In the meantime, HCPD spokesperson Mikayla Moskov said to always verify the identity of who you’re dealing with, don’t provide personal information or funds to anyone without verifying, and report any suspicious activity to police.