You know how your mom always tells you, "If it's too good to be true, it probably is?" Well, we're not your mom, but we might as well be considering the life lessons we're giving you. Mom was right on this one. If something sounds too good to be true during your housing search, it definitely is.
You may be thinking that we're just paranoid, but anything can happen. Take it from us…
The screenshots below are from an interaction between one of our team members, John, and a scammer via email. Check it out yourself so you can recognize the warning signs if it happens to you!
At first glance, it seems like a fairly typical first email from a landlord. John found the listing on Craigslist, contacted the landlord for further information, and got a response. Aside from numerous typos, there are two giveaways that this is a scam:
You always want to meet the landlord and have them show you the house so they can answer any questions you may have. The fact that John couldn't meet the landlord should have been a major indicator that something was wrong. Would you want to continue pursuing this house if you couldn't at least meet the person you're supposed to send a check to every month?
Your answer should be heck no. But John was desperate and decided to send his 'application' back anyway....
Now it's just plain obvious.
The landlord is asking for a down payment of $1,000, and John hasn't been inside the house, or signed a single document yet. Supposedly after he sends the deposit, then they'll send him the keys and documentation via FedEx. Right.
This should be an immediate red flag. Once you send that deposit, you're not seeing your money ever again, let alone those house keys. The fact that the most thorough sentence in this email correspondence is how to do a wire-transfer through Western Union should have been a dead giveaway. Halt the emailing. Don't send that security deposit.
Moral of the story: Never send money to anyone. If you can't see the place, move on.
We're not trying to intimidate you as you gear up for your housing search. Rather, we're hoping to enlighten you to the fact that there are bad people out there who will try to take advantage of you. Especially at a time when you're desperate to find a home.
The allure of an easy rental property may sway you to do silly things against your better judgement. So be cautious and don’t fall victim to common scams – like sending a fake landlord a thousand bucks.
If you’re looking for a place, you could potentially run into scammers. Be aware and make sure to follow our tips.
These can be tricky. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to us for advice. We're here to help!