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Police issue rental fraud warnings

With rental fraud on the rise both nationally and in the valley, Las Vegas police announced Thursday ways citizens can protect themselves and neighbors from being victimized.

The most common types of rental fraud are squatters moving into foreclosed or vacant homes and people posing as landlords and renting properties they don’t own, said Lt. Susan Shingleton with the Metropolitan Police Department’s Financial/Property Crimes Bureau.

She said that there is not a specific suspect or victim type and that the crime “runs all socioeconomic levels, all nationalities.”

“It does have a huge impact on our community,” Shingleton said.

Renters should research prospective properties, checking who the owner is through the Clark County assessor’s office and ensuring any management companies working to lease the home are legitimate. Shingleton said renters should never visit a property alone.

A second person should take notes on the assumed landlord’s license plate number and any other identifying information while the renter discusses the property.

Broken windows, changed locks, requests for upfront cash payments or deals that seem too low-priced are all red flags the landlord or property management company is fraudulent, she said.

For property owners, Shingleton suggests frequent checks on vacant properties to ensure locks haven’t been changed and utilities aren’t on when they’re supposed to be off.

Property owners should get to know the neighbors, ask that they watch the home and leave a number they can be reached at if suspicious activity occurs.

Shingleton said property owners, neighbors and renters should never confront the con artists but should call the police.

Contact Jessica Fryman at jfryman@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0264.

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