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Buyer beware: Company finds fake rental listings for their property

HOUSTON – A Houston realty and property management company was surprised to find one of their units listed for rent online by someone else.

A new tenant is already scheduled to move into the three-bedroom townhome on Village Forest Court. When someone different called on Wednesday and said they had spoken with the owner about renting it, the owner of Tu Casa Realty became suspicious.

“Since we have managed this property for over seven years, we knew that there was something fishy in that,” said owner and broker Mauricio Valdes.

The call prompted employees at the company to do some digging. They found someone had listed the property for rent online under a different phone number and $200 less than the actual price.

“I was really upset and really mad because I care a lot about the people,” said property manager Martha Reza.

One of Reza’s employees responded to the listed phone number posing as a renter. The employee asked about an application and viewing the property.

Tu Casa Realty provided screenshots of text messages showing the person who replied wrote: “You have to make the payment for the application form now” and provided Cash App information.

As for a tour, the person wrote: “You will be driving by to view the property from the outside and the backyard and also through the windows.”

When someone asks for money upfront to look at a property, that is a red flag, Valdes said.

KPRC 2 tried calling the number listed twice but no one answered.

The woman who called Tu Casa Realty had visited the property and noticed Tu Casa’s sign in the window, which had a different phone number than the person she had previously spoken with. As far as Reza and Valdes know, the woman did not hand over any money.

The property manager said she contacted several websites and they removed the listings that were not put up by the property management company.