New scam targeting people looking for affordable housing

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Scammers are targeting low-income families who are seeking affordable housing.

The scammers are targeting some people who are using Section 8 housing, and they are using fake websites to do it.

Officials said at first the website looks like a normal way to sign up for a voucher and wait list, but it will eventually ask for more information, leading you down a road that could cost you a lot of money.

“The way it works, is if somebody is interested in low income housing, they can go online or talk to the local housing authority and they request a voucher to be put on a waiting list,” Jeff Markle, Director of Marketing and Events for the Better Business Bureau, said.

But that’s where the scammers can take advantage of people.

“They’ve gone and created certain websites to make it look like a specific housing authority,“ Markle said.

Some websites are asking for personal information, including your social security number.

“And also requesting payment for an application fee or a payment for their first month’s rent, saying low income housing is available if they wire them the money for the first month,” Markle said.

And Markle said those are all major red flags for a scam.

“So the legitimate website won’t ask for payment, won’t ask for social security, and information like that, so that’s how you spot it,” he said.

But realtors said this isn’t the only housing scam out there. Some people will claim homes that aren’t theirs.

“They will actually take a photo or use fake photos online, and advertise on a rental website or Craigslist, and when people respond, ‘I can’t show you the house right now. The tenants won’t allow it. But if you will wire me money we will hold it and you will be able to get this great rental,'” Michelle Blessing, Real Estate Broker for ERA Shields, said.

Blessing said when in doubt, call a realtor to double check a listing.

“We can do a search to see who really does own it. That’s the first step. And second, we never wire money,” Blessing said.

Officials also said these types of scams are very hard to track down because once you’ve transferred that money, it’s really hard to trace it.

When it comes to low income housing, you can go to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website to find your local housing authority.

The local housing chapter in Colorado Springs is called the Colorado Springs Housing Authority.

If you think you have been a victim of a scam, you can always contact the Better Business Bureau at 719-636-1155.

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