NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) – Nashville police are urging buyers and renters to be careful as they browse through real estate opportunities.

Rent prices continue to climb in the Nashville area. Add to that the housing shortage and it can become an easy market for scammers.

It’s something Jacob Tippets, a commercial real estate broker in Middle Tennessee, knows all too well.

He said his friend had found a house to rent that sounded too good to be true, so he called to do some research.

“My client contacted me and said $1,100 for a property across from Belmont. It took me about two minutes as a realtor to figure out that was absolutely not legit at all” , said Tippets. “Within minutes, I was able to get in touch with the owner. And not only did he say it wasn’t for rent, but it’s a scam. It’s happened several times at his property.”

Rental scams are an ugly trend that’s becoming increasingly popular in big cities like Nashville.

“We’ve seen more than 10 to 15 in a week, and you’ll get at least one or two a week. So I’d say two to five is a normal week for volume,” Lt. Michael Warren said, who oversees the Property Crime Division of the Metro Nashville Police Department.

He said it’s not just money Nashvillians could lose in a rental scam.

“This has always been a popular scam in Nashville due to the demand for housing in the area,” Warren said.

What makes these scams so dangerous is that the crooks can get more than your money,” Warren said.

“There’s so much information you pass on to the bad guy that he can turn around and do what [they want with it] — if they want to open a loan, if they want to take another job, if they just want to sell your information,” Warren said.

Warren said with a bogus claim, they got your address, social security number, and driver’s license.

He said it’s important to meet an owner or seller in person and go through legitimate businesses.

“All the bad guys do is: go to these legitimate websites, duplicate ads and post them on these websites that they don’t check for posting,” Warren said.

Warren said if you’re buying or renting a house, go through a real estate agent.

“They’re more than happy to help. They’re more than happy to take a look. And like I said, we might need a few minutes to figure out if it’s okay. whether or not it’s a scam,” Tippets said.

The MNPD said these scammers often use cellphones and fake names — so catching them can be difficult — and in most cases the scammers are out of state or even country.

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