I was scammed by a person who 'rented' us a home that was listed for sale that he didn't own.

There were a lot of red flags along the way, and I noticed them, but didn't act as we were desperate to find a home.

He gave me account and routing numbers to a Chase bank account and I was instructed to deposit the rent and deposit payment into it.

After not hearing from them for a few days after the payment, I contacted the agency who was selling the home, and confirmed it was a scam.

I don't know what to do now. Do I go to my local police station? Or do I report this to the FBI? I never met them in person, so I don't know where they live. But I would imagine that with the account numbers the police should be able to track this person down, but I don't know.

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    Odds are the account doesn't belong to them, but of course you should contact the police and your bank. – Hart CO Oct 17 at 20:07
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    Possibly you're on the sending end of something like this – Henning Makholm Oct 17 at 21:36
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    Sucks - have run into that a few times when we were moving to new states & desperate to find something quickly or in a high-cost area. Beware any "too good to be true" rental ads where: 1) stated rent is below market value 2) the "owner" claims to be out of the country on business or military deployment 3) they claim they'll mail you keys or documents upon receipt. ... Never rent anything sight-unseen or without first verifying through multiple channels that the property exists and is actually available for rent. Hopefully Chase can at least close the acct & maybe track them down. Good luck! – mc01 Oct 17 at 23:25
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    @HartCO That's possibly the most important part here: the bank. Notify the bank. Immediately. Who knows what they can do for you, but you won't get anything if you don't try. – Mast Oct 18 at 6:57
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    Some background to Hart CO's comment: quite possibly the bank account is owned by a (rather poor) person who answered to an email like "Make $$$ fast - you just need a bank account". This person will just forward any money arriving at the account via some anonymous money transfer to the real scammer, minus some laundering fee. By the time you have realized what is going on, the account owner does not have your money any more. – Klaws Oct 18 at 11:34

I'm not sure who the proper authorities are - but you can start with the Police, and they can help direct you to the proper authorities to report to.

As for whether or not you should do it - Yes, you absolutely should. You lost a ton of money, and while they might not be able to get it back for you, it is still a good idea to report it so that nobody else gets suckered by the exact same scam.

Give them all the info you have - not just the bank account info, but the listing they had and any name or information they gave you during the sale. Anything that can be used to help identify them.

Unfortunately, it's unlikely they can get the money back for you, and if they were at all smart about it, they've already withdrawn and run with the money - but the more information and reports the authorities have, the better a chance they have at catching someone who's scamming people.

You may even get lucky and have an especially dumb scammer who still has the money in that account - it certainly doesn't hurt you in any way to report it and find out.

I don't know what to do now. Do I go to my local police station? Or do I report this to the FBI? I never met them in person, so I don't know where they live.

Start with the local police. Some jurisdictions have a department in the police or other part of the government that handles potential financial crimes. But start with the police.

You could and should contact the bank where you sent the money from.

But I would imagine that with the account numbers the police should be able to track this person down, but I don't know.

We get many scam questions on this site where somebody said person X told me a story...The money will be deposited into my account...I keep some of it and send the rest by money order to ...

The person asking that question is the owner of the account you sent the rent to. Their story will not match your story. They are also a victim, becasue when your bank pulls back the money they realize that the money that was already mailed is gone for good.

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    +1 for pointing out the chain and that the scammers aren't stupid enough to be using their own accounts – MD-Tech Oct 18 at 11:06

Inform the police, their bank, and your bank. If the police are not the right authorities to contact, they will be able to tell you who to contact instead (which will sometimes include "nobody will take care of this, don't bother").

If you have the time and money to spare, you can consider getting a lawyer involved. If you decide to do that, do so before you involve the police or the bank, then listen to their advice.

You can't get any of your money back if the scammer did everything right, but same as in every other profession there are plenty of incompetent scammers.

I would start by speaking with your bank, ASAP. You're their customer, so even if they may not be able to recover your loss, they still have every incentive to do as much as they can to help you. They will instruct you what to do, and may also be able to take some steps which will minimize your losses if taken early on. They will also be able to do some things on your behalf, like informing the scammer's bank about the suspected fraudulent account.

Typically, you will still have to report this to the police, because a bank cannot rely on a phonecall/verbal conversation alone, especially if they will have to interact with the scammer's bank or pay you insurance if you happen to be covered.

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