It’s that time of year when students are looking to rent apartments for the upcoming school year. Many will turn to Kijiji, Craigslist and other Internet sites in their search. Consumers have reported to BBB about finding apartment rental ads, on those sites, that sound too good to be true.
Consumers can fall victim to these types of schemes because the ads are very enticing and often include pictures. Consumers report that when they inquire about the apartment the alleged landlord asks for lots of personal information, provides them with very personal and detailed information of why they are renting and why they can’t be there in person to show the apartment and finally a request to wire money for the deposit and first month’s rent in order to receive the keys.
BBB warns consumers of the following red flags:
The deal sounds too good to be true. Scammers will often list a rental for a very low price in a desired area to lure victims. Find out how comparable listings are priced. If the rental comes in suspiciously low, consider walking away.
The landlord is located elsewhere and prefers to communicate via email. Scammers might say they have just been relocated out of the country for a job or missionary work. If the landlord is truly overseas, there is also no way to get a copy of a lease or keys.
The landlord requires a substantial deposit before handing over the keys or even showing the property. Don’t pay any money before inspecting the apartment, inside and out. Reputable landlords will allow potential renters to view and see the property before taking any money.
The landlord asks the renter to wire money through services such as Western Union or Money Gram. Money sent via wire transfer service is extremely difficult to retrieve. Once the scammers have picked it up, there is little recourse, if any, for getting any money back.