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Below you will find some tips, from the Newport News Police Department's Economic Crimes Unit, to prevent you from becoming a victim of rental fraud. 

Top Eight Red Flags

  • The listing photos have a watermark or you can tell are “copied-and-pasted.” This is known as a “Clone scam.”

  • The listing details are vague.

  • They are eager for you to rent without seeing the property first.

  • They will make a deal without any background info.

  • They claim to be out of town, too sick, or out of the country and cannot meet you in person.

  • They claim to be renting on behalf of someone else. This is known as a “Middleman scam.”

  • The asking rent does not match rent in area. The price is too good to be true.

  • They want you to wire or mail money to them.

Avoid Rental Scams

  • Meet the landlord or agent in person.

  • See the property in person.

  • Protect yourself; never pay with cash.

  • Have a written lease and read it before signing.

  • Do your research; verify the owner of the property.

  • Check reviews. Many renters will give negative feedback, but very few leave positive reviews.

If You're a Victim of Rental Fraud

  • Contact the Central  Dispatch Office at 270-338-2000.

  • Notify the listing website (Zillow, Trulia, Craigslist, etc.).

  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission.

  • File a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (

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