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North Alabama
5 Warning Signs of a Rental Scam
February 25, 2014

Looking for a new apartment or home to rent? A youngmother in Huntsville, AL has sent someone $2,000 for deposit and first monthrent to a person she never meet with. She found house on Craigslist and made arrangements to move in all online.  But when she went to the address she saw a “ForSale” sign and called the realtor only to find out the house was not beingoffered for rent

Before you rent a house off of Craigslist, check outthis list from the Consumerist on 5 of the biggest warning signs that aCraigslist rental listing is probably a scam: 

1. SOUNDS GOOD. WHERE IS IT AND WHERE ARE THEPHOTOS?
Most of the questionable listings readers have sent to us don’t immediately set off many alarm bells when you’re simplylooking at the info on Craigslist.

For example, here is the full text for one recentlisting:

$800 / 3br – 3 BR, 2.5 BA Home With ManyAmenities
- 3 BR, 2.5 BA
- Brand new hardwood flooring on first floor, carpetingon second floor.
- Big kitchen with equipment and bar
- Wooden lot with a patio for sitting and grilling
- Master bedroom on first floor with high double vanitysinks, bath tub and separate shower
- Walk-in loft
- Washer/Dryer hookup in mudroom
- Formal dining room
- Excellent for roommates, couple, or family
- Great neighbors and superb HOA
- All features covered in rent
- Gigantic pool with swirly slide, kids water play area,work-out facility (all across the street)
 - Pets OK
- No smoking in the house

This sounds like a pretty good deal. In many cities,$800/month for three bedrooms and 2.5 baths is a steal. We’ve also seen thissame listing going for as low as $350/month in one city.

Regardless, the property has just about everything you’dneed. So where are the photos to show off all these features? And where inTampa is this place?

Of course, just because a listing lacks these photos andan address doesn’t mean it’s a scam, but much like people who refuse to postphotos on their online dating profiles, it’s a justifiable cause for concern.

2. WHAT KIND OF A NAME IS “KYDIXOROROAQUEP”?

Since the listing doesn’t give a phone number, the onlyway to find out more is to contact the poster by e-mail. You can’t necessarilytell by e-mail posted on the listing page, but when the other person writesback and he’s using an e-mail that looks like it’s been through the consonantgrinder — “kydixororaqep” is a name that was actually attached to one e-mail wesaw — you’re likely dealing with someone using auto-generated e-mail accountsso as to make things harder to trace.

3. SERIOUSLY, YOU ONLY WANT $800/MONTH FOR ALLTHAT?

As good as it sounded in the listing, the rental propertyonly sounds better when “kydixororaqep” sends his reply.

We’ve seen the following reply sent to at least half adozen Consumerist readers who inquired about apartments, all from differentparts of the country:

Just to give you a little more information about thehome, the water, trash
and garbage are paid by us. The security deposit can be paid in 2 installmentsif money is tight. (I know how that can be).

The house has a fenced in backyard and we do allowpets. The deposit per pet is a one time payment.

The house includes a washer and dryer, and we pay forlawn care so the renter does not have to cut the grass.

There is NO application fee (our company policy andguarantee).

Show me a landlord who is completely cool with paying thesecurity deposit installments — and who also pays for everything, including thelawn maintenance — and I’ll show you someone who is probably trying to trickyou out of some money.

Everything about this listing is made to appeal to asmany people as possible, in the hopes of victimizing as many people aspossible.

4. WHAT’S THIS ABOUT A CREDIT CHECK?

The e-mail from kydixororaqep continues:

I will be happy to show the house at an agreed upontime and date but I do require that all applicants and additional renters whowill be living in the home complete a free credit report to ensure theireligibility.

I have so many people apply for homes that I have tomake sure they are qualified renters before I show the property.

This ensures neither of us will be wasting our time.

It is okay if you have bad credit (trust me). We justcheck to make sure that you don’t have several evictions on your record. (Wewon’t rent if you have 3 or more evictions on your record)

Credit checks for rental properties are certainly notunheard of, but again, the e-mails assurance that it’s okay if you have badcredit (and apparently up to two previous evictions) is just dandy… that’s anindicator that this “landlord” is just trying to prey on people withsubstandard credit in need of a place to live.

5. SO WHERE IS THIS PLACE AGAIN?

You may have noticed that you’re now through a Craigslist posting an e-mailwithout kydixororaqep ever mentioning the address of this affordable, luxurioushome.

He explains that here:

I also had to recently stop giving out the exactaddress of rental properties before I am able to show them because last time Idid that the house was vandalized (I will be glad to send you the address rightafter your reply) I assure you though that this is a very safe neighborhood. Iactually lived in this home for 2 years (very cozy).

As soon as you can, please click the link below and goto the secure website to complete the free credit report (takes about 30seconds)

Once you complete, I’ll call you once I receive theinformation from the credit company (very quickly usually).

To read the full article, visit http://consumerist.com/2013/02/27/5-warning-signs-that-a-craigslist-rental-listing-is-probably-a-scam.

- See more at:http://www.bbb.org/blog/