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The Big 3 Rental Scams

Rent Scam #1Rent Scam #2Rent Scam #3
"The property in the ad isn't really mine!" "Oops!  I overpaid you with my money order!" "Wire the money to your own friend!"

This one has been happening a lot lately. What happens is that the scammer logs onto home rental sites, copies the home information, and reposts it onto another site like Craigslist...

One problem - He posts his own contact information instead of yours!

He sets the price really low so he can lure tons of victims into contacting him for that sweet rental deal.

Then he comes up with some kind of nonsense about how he's on "vacation in Africa" and that he needs you to "wire him the money" before he can send you the keys to the house.

Your money is gone forever.

DON'T WIRE RENT MONEY!

So you're renting out your room or house, and you get this weird email from someone in Africa or the UK. It's usually some pretty African model or a poor missionary that wants to rent your place.

You give them your physical address so they can send you the money...

A week later, you receive this money order for a HUGE dollar amount. You take the money order to the bank and deposit it. The bank confirms the money order, so you deposit it, and all seems fine.

Then the scammer says "Oops, my sponsor sent you too much money, can you please wire some of it back to Africa?"

Your money is gone forever.

DON'T WIRE RENT MONEY!

This one could potentially fool a lot of people, especially if they aren't familiar with wire transfers.

The scammer says "If you want to rent my place, I need proof that you have funds. So go ahead and wire some money to YOUR OWN friend, but just email me a copy of the receipt so I can verify that you have the funds."

The victim feels comfortable since he's wiring it to his own friend that he trusts.

What ends up happening though? The scammer takes the PASSWORD ON THE WIRE TRANSFER FORM, goes to his nearest western union, and takes the money himself!

Your money is gone forever.

DON'T WIRE RENT MONEY!

Signs of a Scammer

This is actually pretty easy, because scammers are generally very stupid and lazy. Here are the signs of a scammer:

  • They live in Nigeria or the UK

  • They claim to be a missionary, model, reverend, businessman, etc.

  • Their spelling and grammar are worse than a dyslexic 1st grader

  • They claim to have fallen upon hard times and need someone to trust

  • Their email address is usually @yahoo.com, @hotmail.com, or @gmail.com

  • The email starts off stupidly with "Dear Sir / Madam"

  • Their emails are unusually polite, but are extremely incoherent and weird

  • Bringing up their faith: Mentioning 'God', 'God fearing', 'God bless you', etc.

  • They ask your for any of these items:  Address, Phone, Bank Info, SSN

  • They ask you to wire them money, for any reason imaginable

  • They create a false sense of urgency: "I NEED TO HEAR BACK FROM YOU ASAP!"

  • If they've listed property, the price seems like a steal....Because it really is!

Scammer F.A.Q.

Are rent scams something that only popped up recently?
No, they've probably been around since Nigeria has had access to the Internet.
Should I report a scam to the authorities?
If you've been ripped off, you should alert the authorities and file a police report. Here are some ways you can report the crime:

FTC Toll Free Hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877) 382-4357
Canadian PhoneBusters Hotline:  (888) 495-8501
FTC Complaint - Form
Report Internet Crime - Form
My rental was relisted by scammers, what should I do?
Report it to the authorities mentioned above, and ask the website with the false information to take down the bogus ad right away.
Could the authorities do anything?
Probably not, since these scammers are mostly overseas.
I've been scammed, is there any chance of getting my money back?
The chances of you getting your money back are slim to none - especially from overseas.
Should I stop listing my rental property because of this?
Absolutely not. In total, a very small percentages of landlords have had their property posted by a scammer. Don't let that ruin your capability to advertise on the internet.