Photo by simona pilolla 2/Shutterstock

Picture this: You’re hunting for an apartment and finally see an online listing in your price range that sparks your interest. You contact the property manager, file an application, and maybe even visit the property. But after you send them a security deposit and the first month’s rent, things take a turn.

Maybe you’re told that you can’t move in unless you send several hundred dollars for urgent repairs to the apartment. Or maybe the supposed owner sends you a digital key code, but it won’t unlock the door. Or maybe you pay over $1,000 for a week’s accommodations at a hot vacation spot only to find, when you get there, that the property you thought you had rented was never actually up for rental and is in fact a private residence.

All three of these situations are classic rental scams that have already happened to would-be renters in 2022 and were reported to the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker. In a rental scam, someone misrepresents themselves as a property owner or tenant, or lies about the availability and terms of a real property. It’s more common than you might think—more than 11,500 people reported being victims of online real estate or rental scams in 2021, according to the latest FBI data. Collectively, the victims lost more than $350 million.

To discover just how prevalent these scams are across the country, Palm Paradise Real Estate examined data from the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker to see which states have reported the most cases of rental fraud so far in 2022. Rankings were determined by the number of reports filed in each state per 1 million residents, rounded to the nearest whole number. From Jan. 1 to Sept. 15, 2022, 305 people reported rental scams in the U.S.

Some areas with especially hot housing markets, like Boise, Idaho or Phoenix, are particularly susceptible to con artists trying to make a quick buck off of desperate renters. Vacation homes aren’t immune from the problem, either; Hawaiian real estate companies and realtors have been plagued by the fallout from yearslong scams targeting travelers. Read on to find out which 18 states have the highest rate of reported scams.
 

Gregory E. Clifford // Shutterstock

#18. Arizona

– Reported scams per 1 million people: 0.96

Felix Mizioznikov // Shutterstock

#17. Florida

– Reported scams per 1 million people: 0.96

BJ Ray // Shutterstock

#16. Alabama

– Reported scams per 1 million people: 0.99

Real Window Creative // Shutterstock

#15. Kansas

– Reported scams per 1 million people: 1.02

Real Window Creative // Shutterstock

#14. Maryland

– Reported scams per 1 million people: 1.14

Jacob Boomsma // Shutterstock

#13. North Dakota

– Reported scams per 1 million people: 1.29

Susanne Pommer

#12. South Carolina

– Reported scams per 1 million people: 1.35

Ramunas Bruzas // Shutterstock

#11. Alaska

– Reported scams per 1 million people: 1.36

Derek Olson Photography // Shutterstock

#10. North Carolina

– Reported scams per 1 million people: 1.42

Brian Wilson Photography // Shutterstock

#9. Tennessee

– Reported scams per 1 million people: 1.43

Studio 1One // Shutterstock

#8. Colorado

– Reported scams per 1 million people: 1.55

Trong Nguyen // Shutterstock

#7. Louisiana

– Reported scams per 1 million people: 1.73

Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

#6. Rhode Island

– Reported scams per 1 million people: 1.83

turtix // Shutterstock

#5. New Mexico

– Reported scams per 1 million people: 1.89

ostreetphotography // Shutterstock

#4. Minnesota

– Reported scams per 1 million people: 1.93

Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

#3. Missouri

– Reported scams per 1 million people: 2.43

MNStudio // Shutterstock

#2. Hawaii

– Reported scams per 1 million people: 2.77

Charles Knowles // Shutterstock

#1. Idaho

– Reported scams per 1 million people: 3.68

This story originally appeared on Palm Paradise Real Estate and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.


Stacker

Stacker is a news organization that produces and distributes data journalism to the world’s news organizations. Founded in 2017, Stacker combines data analysis with rich editorial context, drawing on authoritative sources and subject matter experts to drive storytelling. This article has been republished pursuant to a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.