(CMR) Renters are warning others of what appears to be a scam where people are “renting” a luxury home that they do not own via a local online classified website. They are creating fake rental adverts from CIREBA's website and cloning the house details including photos of the interior and exterior and then offering the property at an excellent price to entice people to send them a deposit.
One astute potential renter contacted CMR to share her store in hopes that others will be on the alert and not be scammed by anyone. She shared that this was a close call for her as she actually went to the local to do an exterior site visit.
The 4 bedroom 3.5 bathroom house was being advertised for rent off Bimini Drive in Grand Harbour by “Nora” who claims that she lived in the Cayman Islands and worked as a “pastor married for 16 years with 2 children.” In her odd correspondence when replying to potential renters she shared:
“I truly appreciate your effort in taking the time to reply to my AD posted for rent. I'm the owner of the house and I desire to let you know a little about myself and my family, I thought it might give you another look into my character and the type of person I am, which I know is very important to you. I'm a pastor married for 16 years with 2 children. I'm passionate about God's work. We decided to rent the house because we relocated to the United States to preach the gospel.”
The lengthy response goes on to talk about wanting to initially sell the house while she undertakes missionary work for three years in the United States. However, Nora shares that her family advised her to rent the house instead. She went as far as indicating that she had been dealing with the realtor in getting a good tenant but the commission fees were too expensive.
She claims that the $3000 per month rental fee is a reduction so that she can quickly get the house rented and invited the potential renter to “drive by the house today and get back to me after viewing the location and surroundings.” It goes on to further state that the renter should ignore the realtor signpost in front of the house as the owner is no longer dealing with them.
She claims that the real estate company has been advised to remove the sign next week and again focuses on the fact that the realtor was too expensive. Nora also included a questionnaire and indicated that once completed she provided information on how to get the house keys to view the inside. It noted that:
“Your Application form will determine if you are the right tenant to live in my house. I will call you as soon as I receive the questionnaire. We can discuss how you will get the keys and move in. I've attached pictures of myself and family.”
A visit to the location revealed that the house was not for rent at all and no one appears to know who Nora is. The owner was off island but picked up the conversation on the security camera after the helper went outside to speak with the potential renter. He proceeded to then call her on the phone and advised her that the home has been listed for and not rent and he has no idea who Nora was.
The homeowner spoke exclusively to CMR and noted that he became aware of the advert by someone else who saw it and shortly after the potential tenant who showed up his residence. He overheard the conversation she had with someone at the residence and was able to confirm the house was up for sale and not a rental.
Others are being warned to be on the lookout for this scam and others like it.