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States with the most reported rental scams

Curious which states have the most reported rental scams? Palm Paradise Real Estate compiled this list using data from the Better Business Bureau.   

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Woman using laptop

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.
 

#18. Arizona

Scenic view of Phoenix Arizona

Gregory E. Clifford // Shutterstock

- Reported scams per 1 million people: 0.96

#17. Florida

Elevated view of Florida coastal scene

Felix Mizioznikov // Shutterstock

- Reported scams per 1 million people: 0.96

#16. Alabama

Elevated city view of Birmingham Alabama

BJ Ray // Shutterstock

- Reported scams per 1 million people: 0.99

#15. Kansas

Aerial view of Topeka Kansas with statehouse

Real Window Creative // Shutterstock

- Reported scams per 1 million people: 1.02

#14. Maryland

Aerial view of Annapolis with statehouse

Real Window Creative // Shutterstock

- Reported scams per 1 million people: 1.14

#13. North Dakota

Aerial view of Grand Forks North Dakota

Jacob Boomsma // Shutterstock

- Reported scams per 1 million people: 1.29

#12. South Carolina

Downtown Charleston South Carolina

Susanne Pommer

- Reported scams per 1 million people: 1.35

#11. Alaska

Harbor in Juneau, Alaska

Ramunas Bruzas // Shutterstock

- Reported scams per 1 million people: 1.36

#10. North Carolina

Elevated view of Asheville, North Carolina and surrounding mountains

Derek Olson Photography // Shutterstock

- Reported scams per 1 million people: 1.42

#9. Tennessee

Downtown Nashville in autumn

Brian Wilson Photography // Shutterstock

- Reported scams per 1 million people: 1.43

#8. Colorado

Denver Colorado cityscape

Studio 1One // Shutterstock

- Reported scams per 1 million people: 1.55

#7. Louisiana

Aerial view of Jackson Square with Saint Louis Cathedral church

Trong Nguyen // Shutterstock

- Reported scams per 1 million people: 1.73

#6. Rhode Island

Providence Rhode Island cityscape

Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

- Reported scams per 1 million people: 1.83

#5. New Mexico

Elevated view of Albuquerque residential suburbs

turtix // Shutterstock

- Reported scams per 1 million people: 1.89

#4. Minnesota

Downtown Minneapolis overlooking Mississippi River

ostreetphotography // Shutterstock

- Reported scams per 1 million people: 1.93

#3. Missouri

Kansas City, Missouri downtown with Union Station

Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

- Reported scams per 1 million people: 2.43

#2. Hawaii

Honolulu Hawaii city view

MNStudio // Shutterstock

- Reported scams per 1 million people: 2.77

#1. Idaho

Boise Idaho skyline in autumn

Charles Knowles // Shutterstock

- 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.