NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Nashville keeps growing, just like rental prices. Add limited inventory, plus a competitive market to the equation, and the grand total is a perfect breeding ground for bad actors.

According to Major Tim Bailey, Chief of Detectives for the Sumner County Sheriff’s Office, most of the real estate scams involve rentals. The pressure to land a place, in some cases, causes panic. Renters will depend solely on pictures, afraid touring the property will give another renter just enough time to swoop in.

“You’re just desperate enough because there’s nothing to rent around in the area,” Bailey said.

Scammers sense that and act. “You’ll go to this website you’ll find a place you want to move to, the problem is, that person, in the scam, doesn’t have the right to rent that place,” Bailey explained. “Then you get here with your U-Haul and somebody is already living there.”

One Tennessee scammer made a misstep – meeting the unsuspecting renters in person. Bailey said they met in Nashville to transfer the money when the would-be renters came to look at the house, they found that not only was it not livable, it was still under construction.

The victims gave deputies a description of the scammer and their vehicle and authorities were able to track him down. Most victims aren’t as lucky, losing out on hundreds, sometimes even thousands of dollars, and still in need of a place to live.

You can protect yourself and your investment by following a few tips:

  • Always see the property in person.
  • Whenever possible do business with a verified agency.
  • Search the rental address. Check that the property isn’t listed for sale on other sites. That’s a quick indicator the ad may be fake.
  • Landlords should never ask for personal information upfront — such as your social security number or the routing number for your bank account.

If you do fall victim, you are asked to reach out to local law enforcement who can help prevent others from being scammed.