According to apartmentlist.com, In the US alone, over 5.2 million renters have been victimized by rental fraud. Here’s the entire article: http://www.apartmentlist.com/rentonomics/how-common-is-rental-fraud-scams/
Scammers are everywhere, in every industry. As a landlord myself, I’ve encountered this issue over and over again. One case in point:
I had advertised one of my 3-bedroom homes on Craig’s List for $900/month, and a young woman happened to call one day and asked if it was available for $650/month. She had seen it in another CL listing, with my pictures, listed for that amount. The “owner” emailed her and said to send him the deposit and half of the first month’s rent, and he’d have his “agent” meet her at the house with the keys. I told her she was being scammed, and that his “agent” would never show up and she’d be losing that money. She started crying, but was so glad to have avoided this disaster.
Telemarketing and insurance fraud mainly target older people, but rental scams aim at the younger demographic. Renters 19-29 years of age are 42% more likely to have lost money in a rental scam … often over $1-2000! Fake listings, fake addresses, stolen listings (as is the case most commonly here in Indianapolis) … these scammers get pretty creative.
What can be done on the part of the smart consumer? Here are a few tips, also from apartmentlist.com:
- Always visit the property in person and meet the leasing agent.
- Never pay with a wire transfer. Scammers often use this tactic, saying they live out of the country.
- Don’t ever give your SS number or other personal information until you’re comfortable the management co. is legitimate.
- Sometimes the scammers advertise false amenities and features. Make sure the ad matches the true features of the home.
Here’s the detailed article from apartment list.com: http://www.apartmentlist.com/rentonomics/how-to-avoid-rental-fraud-scams/
And remember, if something appears to be too good to be true, it probably IS! Renters, beware!