A recent New York University study looked at more than 2 million rental listings on Craigslist over a 5-month period. They discovered several swindles, reported by the Joplin Globe, including scammers who:
Ask a potential tenant to click a link and purchase a credit report. The scammer then gets a referral commission from the credit reporting site, and the would-be renter is out of luck, since there is no actual property for rent.
Ask potential tenants to pay an upfront fee and a monthly membership fee to access listings of pre-foreclosure rentals or rent-to-own properties. “In the majority of cases,” reports the Globe, “the companies leading the scams have no connection to the properties listed.”
Duplicate rental listings from other sites and post them on Craigslist for a lower price. Scammers then request a rent deposit via wire transfer for property they don’t own.
To protect yourself from such schemes, the Joplin Globe offers the following advice:
- Research the address online to see if there are conflicting ads.
- Call the real estate agent in charge of the property and ask to meet with him or her in person.
- Never send money before seeing the rental in person.
- Never wire money or use a prepaid debit card. “These payments are the same as sending cash; once you send it, you have no way to get it back.”
- If the rental seems too good to be true, be skeptical.
- If a supposed landlord tells you he or she lives overseas and asks you to send rental money to him or her, look elsewhere.
Photo Copyright: zimmytws / 123rf.com