ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (FOX 13) - A St. Petersburg, Florida woman has a warning for those who may be house hunting online after she paid a scammer money to rent a home that wasn't actually for rent.
Francesca Moore thought she had found the perfect rental home in St. Pete, for a price that she couldn't refuse.
"It had my little white picket fence, and I was waiting to dive in the pool," said Moore.
She emailed the supposed owner and, after their conversation, she felt confident it was a legit deal.
"He was telling me the details of the house, what everything needed," said Moore. "He said how to clean the pool and the Jacuzzi and keep up the yard."
The man told Moore he would send her the keys after she paid.
Days later, she wired the man almost $700. Then she got an email asking for an extra $150 so FedEx could deliver her keys That's when Moore knew she had been duped.
"Right then and there I knew I had to call the police because it wasn't working for me," Moore said.
Her dream rental was actually for sale, listed for more than $800,000.
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office told FOX 13 that the summer and winter months are the most common times for rental scams to occur.
If you do see an ad online that looks suspicious, there are some red flags to look for.
PCSO said there are some ways to spot scams like this one online.
First, there is never a good reason to wire funds because if you do, there's no way to get that money back.
Also, if the renter asks for payment before you've met them or seen the property, it probably isn't legit.
Finally, if the renter promises to send you keys instead of giving them to you in person, there's a good chance you may never receive them.
Unfortunately for Moore, she was forced to learn the hard way. However, now she has a warning for others.
"If it seems too good to be true, it's not true at all," said Moore.
Moore has filed a report with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, and an investigation is ongoing.
PCSO said it's important to be aware and do your research before trusting anything you see online.
If you do happen to fall victim to a scam, contact police immediately.