NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Nashville is one of the hottest rental markets in the country, but that also makes it a prime target for real estate scams. Thieves are getting away with cash after falsely renting out homes for sale.
Imagine looking for a place and finding a home in a great neighborhood just a few miles from downtown for $600 a month - almost too good to be true.
"It occurred to me you all are being scammed," said Karla West.
She's seen a lot in her line of work. West is Chief of Staff to Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall, and she's never seen anything like this.
"It's just kind of that I cannot believe my house is being scammed," said West.
She recently put her Donelson home up for sale. She expected prospective buyers to visit but then potential renters started showing up unannounced. They told her they responded to an ad on Craigslist pitching a great deal on a home rental.
A follow-up e-mail arrived from Florida showing photos of the home, urging those interested to apply and then send first months rent of $640 and a $400 deposit.
"I felt sorry for the people who were coming by," said West.
She just happened to run into a few to warn them the offer was a scam. But there's no telling how many others came by thinking they'd found a great deal and then sent money off they'll never see again.
The bottom line: West's home, like several other in the mid-state area possibly being used in a the scam, is not for rent. It's for sale.
Police say recovering money lost in scams like this one is next to impossible.
When buying or renting deal face to face and make any money transactions in person. No keys to the apartment, no rent or deposit.