Kalispell Police Department Warns of Property Rental Scam

Scammers are listing bogus rentals online via Craigslist and other online platforms, requesting electronic payment

By Andy Viano
Kalispell Police Department police car. Beacon file photo

The Kalispell Police Department (KPD) is cautioning local residents to be wary of any online listing for a rental property that requests electronic payment, alleging that a particularly nefarious scam taking advantage of Flathead County’s ultra-competitive housing market is becoming more prevalent.

According to a press release issued by the department, KPD is receiving an increasing number of reports of fraudulent rentals in the area. Bogus postings are being placed on sites like Craigslist and the scammers are asking for payment via apps like Venmo and PayPal. Some listings are for existing properties and the perpetrators are even providing invalid rental agreements in some cases.

To protect yourself from a possible scam, officials recommend requesting to meet the person listing the property face-to-face. If an in-person meeting is arranged and a purported landlord still wants to receive payment through an electronic transfer, law enforcement recommends writing down the person’s license plate number, their physical description and a description of their vehicle. In possible, KPD also recommends using a rental agency or property management company to confirm the validity of the listed property.

In addition, prospective renters can look up property owner information through the Flathead Geographic Information Systems (GIS) website at flathead.mt.gov/gis or via Montana Cadastral at svc.mt.gov/msl/mtcadastral.

If you believe you have been the victim of a rental scam or have any additional information, contact KPD Detective Jim Wardensky at [email protected] or (406) 758-7794.