By Better Business Bureau. March 7, 2017.
This summer moving season approaches, BBB is seeing an uptick in reports of rental scams. Finding a new place to live is stressful, and scammers know that people in the midst of moving don’t always have time to do the necessary research. Don’t be one of them!
How the Scam Works:
You respond to an online rental listing that touts a beautiful home, low rent, and great amenities. It looks legitimate; con artists often use real photos and descriptions stolen from other websites. The “landlord” replies to your message claiming to be out of town and unable to show the property. One common scenario is that the scammer pretends to have been transferred suddenly for work.
The scammer will then create a false sense of urgency, telling you that others are interested so you must act immediately. They will ask for a security deposit and/or first month’s rent to reserve the property. The scammer may claim that you can see the property through a rental agent – only after you pay the deposit. In some versions, the “landlord” will require prospective tenants to complete an application form, which asks for personal details like Social Security number. No matter the details, once you send the money the result is the same. The “landlord” will stop responding to messages and disappear. Your new home never existed.