The world we live in today is a wonderful place. Technology has connected us together like no other time in recorded history, and that is so awesome.
But, the same technology that makes this world such a blessing, can also be a curse. Scammers around the world have harnessed that power for evil, and they didn't seem to get the memo that we all just want to get along.
Unfortunately, real estate is ripe with scams, especially on both Landlords and Tenants. Craigslist is loaded with rental scams and you need to make sure that you do your due diligence before agreeing to anything.
Here are the most common scams that I have seen:
-A scammer, often in the scammer haven of west Africa, copies pictures from an unsuspecting homeowner and puts up an ad for a rental. They say they had to transfer suddenly and the place is now for rent. The rent is far below market value. When you, as a potential tenant, contact them, you find out they are in Africa, and have the keys. They will send these to you so you can check it out.
But wait, who the heck are you, wanting the keys to my house? You need to send me a deposit of $1500, wired to my bank in Africa, THEN I'll send you the keys. That's the last you'll ever see of that $1500.
-Another scam going around Craigslist is people lifting photos and info from a current rental ad and running their own ad for the same home.
They are generally based out of the country and are doing "God's" work - they got called out of the US on a missionary trip and had to leave their home - so if you mail them the rent and security deposit they will mail you a key to the home and you can stay there until they come back to the US in a few years.
-A Landlord has a rental ad posted on Craigslist. They get an inquiry from someone in the U.K. who is transferring here and s/he absolutely loves the house. The Landlord tells them the rent and security deposit.
The next email informs the Landlord that their new tenant will send them a check for $3000 to cover first month's rent and deposit totaling $1500, and as soon as you receive it, will you please immediately send another check to their interior decorator for $1500.....
And here are some things that you can do to protect yourself:
-Never, Ever, EVER wire or send money in any way to anyone that is not standing in front of you with keys to the home that you are about to rent and is taking you on a tour of the inside of said home!
-When you see an ad for a home that you are interested in, first get in the car and drive by the home. Is there a “For Rent” sign in the front yard? There should be, and the phone number on that sign should match up with the phone number on the ad. If it doesn’t...DO NOT call the number on the ad!
-Landlords, I can not think of any reason in the world why it would be acceptable to accept an over-payment of rent/deposit and then pay them back the difference. JUST SAY NO!
Scammers are good at conning people out of their money, and they are coming up with new evil schemes every day. Think about contacting a real estate agent. They can contact reputable sources for rentals that you won’t have to worry about. If you don’t want to deal with an agent, I understand. Just remember that if something seems too good to be true...it is. Just walk away. You’ll thank me later.