How To Spot Craigslist Rental Scams

Personal finance tips, personal finance, how to spot craigslist rental scams,, save money

In the good old days, we looked for apartment deals in local newspapers. Things have changed drastically, thanks to advanced technology and reliable internet connection. Craigslist has become the “go-to” site for apartment seekers and scammers.  

It is estimated that about a third of rental deals listed on Craigslist are scams. As a result, the site has developed a countermeasure to remove any suspicious ad ASAP. However, when you open the Craigslist apartments for rent section, you’ll still come across rental scams on the platform luring innocent rental seekers to their doom.

We’ve compiled the most common scams to help you identify and avoid them. 

Common Craigslist Apartments for Rent Scams to Look Out For

  1. The Cloned Listing

We start with the most popular scams where the scammer copies and pastes information from a legitimate ad and then adjusts the price to make it more enticing. 

Clients who respond are invited to drive by the apartment and look at the façade and the entire exterior. However, the scammer will not be ready to give you an interior tour citing unavailability on another important errand. 

If you show interest in the apartment, the scammer will ask for one-month rent as a security deposit via PayPal, Western Union, or other means. Don’t send any money yet or you’ll be in for a rude shock. 

Some apartment seekers don’t even realize they’ve been scammed until they pull up near the unit only to discover someone else is living there with no plans of moving out anytime soon. 

Some of the red flags in such a transaction is the lack of an interior tour of the apartment. Besides, scammers always ask for an advance through wire transfer. Also, check if the photos in the listing have MLS watermarks, meaning that the pictures may not be original.  

The best way to avoid a clone listing is never to send any payment until you’ve had a comprehensive tour and signed the lease. 

  1. The Illegal Sublet

This scam under Craigslist apartments for rent is similar to cloned listing but more insidious. 

The scammer has access to the apartment or house and agrees to meet you in person. They will proceed to give you a tour and even produce a fake lease for signing. Since these processes seem legit to unsuspecting home seekers, it’s important to conduct some sleuthing and unmask any fraud. 

Common red flags in an illegal sublet include busted doors, windows, or locks that the scammer may have used to access the building. You should also activate your spider sense if the alleged broker or landlord insists on transactions through wire transfer. 

The only way to avoid this scam is to verify the actual owner of the unit. Conduct an online search on the municipal records to confirm that the person you’re dealing with is the real owner or the property manager. 

  1. Fake Real Estate Database

Watch out for “real estate firms” claiming to sell rent-to-own properties or rental unit databases. Most of these services charge a sign-up fee of about $250, which is already a red flag. 

Unsuspecting home seekers discover that the Craigslist apartments for rent listings are fake shortly after they part with their hard-earned money. 

Avoid such scams by researching the real owners of the firm before signing up. Also, check for reviews about the company to see whether clients have filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau. 

Scammers keep upping their game to lure even those who think they’re smart. Even savvy home apartment renters can fall prey, especially when eying a competitive market. Study the scams discussed here and ensure you apply the preventative measures provided.  

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you. For more information, see our disclosure here.

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