Last time I wrote a piece about how renters are scammed out of money with fake rental listings.  This time I’d like to talk about what landlords need to know to protect themselves as well.  Here’s how the scam usually goes…

  1. Someone claiming to to be interested in the apartment contacts the landlord.  (This is often made by email from someone claiming to be outside the US, often in the UK)
  2. The person offers to pay you up front via cashier’s check or money order.  Not only that, the amount they offer you is significantly larger than the amount you requested.
  3. They ask for you to wire them the extra money (by a service such as Western Union or MoneyGram) back to them.
  4. If you do so, you will find out days later that the check or money order was a fraud and now your bank wants the money you withdrew to send to the scam artist back.  You won’t be able to get any money back from the wire service you used.

Apparently this happens often enough that others have written about it.  You can see 419: Rent Scam for a real-life example of this or what Colorado State University felt compelled to post on the subject.

As a general rule with internet transactions, only do business with people you can meet in person locally, avoid wire services such as Western Union or MoneyGram, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  NuShack is only a listing service.  We do not act as an intermediary, broker, mediate or guarantee any transactions.  If someone claims otherwise, they are lying or misinformed.

Rest assured, there are many quality tenants out there and scam artists only represent a handful.  But being aware can save you problems in the future.  Good luck and happy renting!

You’re looking for the perfect place to rent. You need something cheap, but with enough room and in a good location. Then you see it. Three bedrooms, the perfect location and the rent is unbelievably low! They only left their email address to contact them, so you give it a try. They respond saying that the rent is indeed that low, but they need money up front — preferably by a wire service like MoneyGram or Western Union. When you ask for a phone number or to meet them, they can’t for some reason.  Maybe they are out of the country, or maybe they tell you they’re deaf. Something doesn’t seem right, but the price is so good, and you need the place, so you send in the money, never to see it, the person you emailed, or even the apartment, because it never existed.

Sadly this sort of scam does hit people just looking for a home. Fortunately, there are some really simple ways to avoid problems:

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We’ve recently started adding listings to Flugpo, a social classifieds site.  It’s a great site and we are already noticing views for listings we’ve added there.  It’s just another way we have to get exposure for your rental listings and fill your property with paying tenants.