A rise in scams involving home rentals and pets has prompted authorities in Ventura County to issue a warning cautioning people when making purchases or conducting business online.
"The scammers will request payment or deposits upfront and promise delivery," said the Ventura County Sheriff's Office. "They will then request additional payments for shipping or other types of fees, often with the promise that the money will be refunded at a future date."
The victims are left waiting and those sets of keys or pets never show up, according to the Sheriff's Office.
The following are some of the common indicators of a scam:
- The person you are in communication with will only talk through email or text;
- You are asked to send money through an app such as Zelle or Venmo to an account with an email address different than the one you have been communicating with;
- There is some sort of urgency or deal that can only happen if you send the money immediately.
Although the Sheriff's Office says not every online pet sale or rental is a scam, there are some ways to avoid falling prey to these scams:
- Ask the person to Facetime you with the puppy or kitten you are looking to purchase;
- Conduct a Google Image search of the pictures in the ad to see where else on the internet those images appear;
- Contact a separate realtor to confirm the property is available for rent;
- If the person you are in contact with claims to be with a realty agency, contact the agency to confirm that person is an employee with them;
- If you live close to the property, drive by to see if it appears to actually be for rent.
Taking a few extra steps could save a lot of heartache in the long run. The Sheriff's Office points out that "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is" and "not to be in a rush for what seems like a good deal."