Following the identification of a suspect authorities say was involved in three rental scams, the Gwinnett County Police Department is sharing tips to avoid becoming a victim.
According to the Electronic and Financial Crimes Unit, 31-year-old Gregory Coley of Lawrenceville, whose whereabouts are unknown, has been charged with three counts of theft by deception. On April 4, a victim reported sending $2,000 rent money to the suspect to rent a home in Auburn. On April 11, a second victim sent $2,199 to the same suspect expecting to rent a home in Duluth. On April 13, a third victim sent $3,900 to the suspect to also rent a home in Duluth.
According to GCPD, rental scams are on the rise and fraudulent rental listings are shared in various formats. Often, suspects never meet victims in person and all communication is electronic. The department shares these tips to avoid becoming a target of such scams:
- Keep a record of all transactions
- Find rental properties through established agents and management companies
- Look for additional listings of the same property
- Avoid paying in cash, using peer-to-peer sites such as Zelle, Cashapp and Venmo and avoid gift cards
- Check property tax records through the county tax office for the most current owner of the home
- Ask for proof of ownership
- Be cautious when listing agents provide excuses to avoid meeting in person
Victims who have been defrauded by rental scams should:
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission and file a complaint
- File a complaint with IC3.gov
- File a report with your local police department
- Contact a local real estate attorney for additional assistance
Detectives are attempting to identify any other victims who may have been defrauded by the suspect. Anyone with information on the suspect’s whereabouts or with information on this case is asked to call GCPD detectives at 770-513-5300. To remain anonymous, tipsters should contact Crime Stoppers at 404-577-TIPS (8477) or visit stopcrimeATL.com. Crime Stoppers tipsters can receive a cash reward for information leading to an arrest and indictment in this case.
Case number: GP230031525