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Real estate scams on the rise in South Carolina

Scammers are cashing in by posting fake listings for real rental properties, South Carolina officials said.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — South Carolinians reported losing more than $12 million to real estate scams for fake property listings in 2022, a new report from the Department of Consumer Affairs shows. 

The report comes as many people are looking for short-term rental options and vacation homes as an alternative to a hotel.

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South Carolina officials offered several tips to avoid becoming the victim to a real estate scam. Some of those tips include looking up the owner and speaking directly to that person and using a credit card to pay. You should never pay via wire transfer or bank account transfer as those methods immediately push cash in a scammer's hands and make it difficult to recover. 

Also, you should get everything in writing when it comes to renting a home or vacation property. Officials say it's important to have a paper trail to ensure you get any verbal promises in writing. 

If you are looking at a long-term rental, you should tour the whole property before putting any money down. 

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Tips to avoid becoming a victim of a scam

  • Emotional appealAny pitch that ratchets up your emotion will inhibit your rational judgment.  

  • Sense of urgencyYou MUST act now, or else.  

  • Request for unorthodox payment - Gift cards, prepaid credit cards, wire transfers, etc.  

  • Explanations that don't ring true - If your new “landlord” can’t show you the inside of the house, that could be because they don’t own it.  

  • You won, now pay up - It’s not a prize if you have to pay for it. Taxes, fees, shipping, whatever.  

  • Too good to be true - That’s because it’s not true. Sorry, your long-lost relative didn’t die, leaving you millions. That car you bought online for a third of its Kelly Blue Book value doesn’t really exist. The son of a billionaire diamond broker didn’t “swipe right” on you and fall instantly in love. That work-at-home job paying you hundreds of dollars an hour for stuffing envelopes isn’t real. 

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