Beware of Rental Fraud

Jorge Garcia
Published Dec 6, 2023

Unfortunately, a lot of people in this world have always been trying to figure out scams to defraud you of your money.

Sadly, this is just something that's getting a lot worse in these tough economic times.

It's not necessarily because the criminals need more money; it's more to do with the fact that they know they can scam more people because there are a lot more desperate people out there looking to save money. This is something that has been noticed in the housing market recently.

There are a lot of scams in the rental real estate market, where people end up losing money that they simply cannot afford to lose.

The people being scammed are poor people who already barely have enough money to live, and they're having hundreds of dollars (sometimes much more) stolen from them, and most never even see it coming.

Law enforcement isn't a preventative measure but rather something used to punish scammers after the fact. This is little consolation to people being scammed.

The idea of a rental seems great in today's housing market.

You don't have to qualify for a high-interest mortgage, and you don't have to come up with $40,000 or more in cash to put down on a place to live.

You can pay a security deposit, maybe a month's worth of rent, and move into a new location for much cheaper than getting a house.

However, with the digital age and real estate websites booming now, some people have fallen victim to online rent schemes and have lost a lot of money.

This isn't a very prevalent thing in the housing market, but that doesn't matter to the people who've been scammed.

Basically, it works like this: A person wanting to rent an apartment comes across a site offering apartments.

The site is professional and provides virtual tours of the property, along with an application.

The sites usually bill these rentals as emergency rentals that will go quickly, and usually advertise them to low-income people without a credit check or a huge deposit,

However, there is a deposit.

"Congratulations," the websites tell the people looking for an affordable apartment. "You have been approved. Instead of a typical expensive security deposit and first and last month's rent, simply put down $400 today and make an appointment with us to sign your official paperwork in person."

As you might imagine, some people fall right into this scam.

After all, the website was professional, and the properties are real, physical locations.

That's because they're usually stolen from Zillow, Redfin and other real estate sites and just copied to the scam sites.

People get so excited to save thousands of dollars that they could end up losing hundreds.

Again, this isn't a widespread scam, if only because it's very risky and hard to pull off.

But around the holiday season, you'll start seeing more and more reports like this, as people try whatever they can to save some money.

Most of these scammers end up busted and going to jail, but the victims hardly ever recoup their money.

Rentals Properties Are Always Worth Investigating

Whenever you find a rental property available, it's important that you investigate it to see if it's worth your time.

Even if it's not a scam, it may end up being a bad place to live that rips you off in some way.

This is especially true in big cities, with slumlords.

These are property owners that never fix anything for you, always give you a hard time, and end up charging you more money.

Some want to toss you out as soon as your lease expires, and they refuse to give your security deposit back, even if nothing is wrong.

They will claim that the plumbing is clogged, the taps are leaking, you poked holes in the way, etc.

These places are nightmares for tenants, but usually the only apartments they can afford.

You can find out more about these situations by speaking with other tenants and reading up on the person or company that owns the apartments.

If they're a slumlord, that information will be readily available.

Just do your due diligence when shopping for a rental apartment or house.

Even if it's not a scam, that doesn't mean that you're getting a good deal.

You could still end up being ripped off in many ways if you end up renting from a shady individual or company. It's worth it to do the extra research.

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