Sheriff's office: Scams target Florida hurricane survivors

SHELL POINT BEACH, FL - OCTOBER 10: The storm surge and waves from Hurricane Michael batter the beachfront homes on October 10, 2018 in the Florida Panhandle community of Shell Point Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)

Florida Panhandle authorities say scam artists are targeting Hurricane Michael survivors looking for rental homes.

In a statement Wednesday, the Bay County Sheriff's Office warned that several schemes are circulating in communities trying to recover from the October storm.

The sheriff's office says that because so many people are looking for rental homes due to the hurricane, many units are being falsely listed as available for rent. When potential renters try to move into those properties, they find them already occupied or that they had never been available to rent.

The sheriff's office says victims have lost thousands of dollars because they paid rent before arriving.

In other schemes, victims are told they need to send gift cards to resolve an identity theft or to avoid arrest for missing tax deadlines or a jury summons.