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Rental Property Scam

    Some scammers steal authentic listings of rental properties, change the listing’s e-mail address or other contact information, or place modified ads on other websites. There are other scammers that invent listings of places that are not for rent or that do not exist, and they try to pique your interest by advertising rentals at a price below the market value.

    What are some methods that scammers or rental property use?

    This occurs when a person falsely states that he is the owner of the property. Commonly the property has a rental price that is unbelievably cheap because they have “the urgent need to sell”. The scammer requests the interested customers to send a wire, so “they don´t lose the opportunity”.

    When the charges for a rental property are extremely cheap, scammers often use false phone numbers or simply omit this information to force potential tenants to connect with them via e-mail. Scammers often post photos in order to receive more emails from interested parties asking for information.

    When contacted, the scammer says he is not able to show the property because he is out of the country but that he is willing to perform the transaction and send the keys in exchange for the payment. When the payment is complete, the customer is left with a set of false keys and a nonexistent property.

    What can you do to protect yourself?

    If you find a spectacular property, with a great location and unbelievably low price, view this with caution.

    Most scammers over the Internet include a fake phone number in their advertisement. The main objective is to force interested tenants to contact the scammer via email so that they may request additional personal information. You must use common sense and ask questions like: If it’s a legal business, why they don’t have a cell phone or phone line? If someone is announcing a luxury penthouse, why you cannot get in touch with him and why everything has to be via e-mail?

    The scammer will always provide reasons why they are unable to meet in person. This usually includes work conflicts, unexpected travel or an emergency. They may also imply that their prices can remain low because the property is managed remotely.

    Most important, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. You should never send money to someone you have not personally met, and are not certain the actual property exists. Also, it is recommended that you only use reputable third party websites and booking agencies when renting a property. This will ensure a more transparent transaction.