March 30, 2009
Scammers have learned that using the name of a legitimate business or organization often helps deceive victims. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is now warning that its name is being used as part of a property rental scam in which rental property is offered to consumers.

Victims targeted by scammers are led to believe that NAR is functioning as an intermediary to receive rental deposits from prospective tenants. NAR says nothing could be further from the truth.

NAR is not involved in this business and has contacted law enforcement officials to request that the matter be investigated. We encourage any consumers who may be affected to file a complaint, said NAR President Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dallas-Fort Worth.

The scam claims that on receipt of a deposit, NAR will deliver the keys to the property to the tenant. Prospective tenants are instructed to send money via Western Union to NARs purported agent in the United Kingdom.

Some of the listings have been posted on Craigslist, which reportedly has had difficulty in tracing the original listings. NAR does not have an escrow service, or function as an intermediary to receive rental deposits.

Some of the scam listings also refer to or propose using a Residential Lease Package that includes a form lease that purports to be a document prepared by or otherwise associated with NAR. NAR was not involved in creating or producing the Residential Lease Package or other lease form, and does not recommend, support, or encourage use of those documents.

Consumers who have encountered this scam may file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, sponsored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center.

Our mission is not only to protect consumers in the real estate transaction, but also guard them against fraud, McMillan said.