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Watch For Scams Newsletter. Rental Scam
January 22, 2020

Rental Scams

Watch For Scams is dedicated to helping you avoid becoming a victim of fraud.

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Rental Scams

Most people looking for a place to rent start their search online. Internet listings provide a wealth of information beyond price — pictures, floor plans, amenities, perks and a detailed description of the property.

But many of these listing are fake, created by scammers who hope to steal thousands of dollars in upfront fees for a place they don’t own or don’t have the right to rent. Some properties may not even be for rent.

Millions of listings for apartment, house and vacation rentals are totally fake, so the chances of coming across a scam rental listing are extremely high.

A survey conducted in 2018 found that:

1. 43 percent of those who shopped for an apartment online have encountered a bogus listing.

2. Renters between the ages of 19 to 29 are more likely to lose money this way.

3. Of those who did get fooled, the median loss was $400, the survey found. But 31 percent lost more than $1,000 and nearly 18 percent lost more than $2,000.

It doesn’t take much to create a fake rental ad. Fraudsters can copy a legitimate ad — photos and description — and simply swap out their contact information for the real landlord or management company. To lure in their victims, the fraudsters often offer a rent that’s well-below market price. When someone responds, they’re pressured to send money right away without even seeing the place.

Even if you're desperate to get a place to live, don't send your money off first. When someone is pressuring you to act now, it's never a good thing. You need to take time to check it out.

The criminals typically want the money sent by wire transfer or gift card, something that can't be traced and can't be reversed. It’s never a good idea to send money to someone you’ve never met in person for an apartment you haven’t seen.

If you believe you have been a victim of this type of scam you should promptly report it to the IC3's website at The IC3's complaint database links complaints together to refer them to the appropriate law enforcement agency for case consideration.

Remember - always watch for scams!


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