Put yourself in the place of a couple who find a great rental on Craigslist.com. The house was beautiful, it was in a great neighborhood, and it was being listed below market! They were happy with the pictures they saw in the ad, so they called the number. The landlord said there had been a lot of interest in the property, so if they really wanted it, they’d have to make a decision quickly and send in their application and application fee quickly, so they did.
A few days later, they got a call from the landlord to let them know that of the 7 applications that he’d received, he’d chosen their application. Of course they were very happy and eager to know what to do next. The landlord said he was about to go out of town on vacation for a week, so if they’d just mail money orders constituting first and last month’s rent and security deposit, he’d meet them at the house on the day the lease began to deliver the keys.
On moving day, they showed up and wondered why there were other moving trucks on the street. It turns out that the person they’d thought was the landlord actually didn’t own the property, and the real owner had no idea what had been going on. The scam artist had made the same promises to 7 different callers, and had made off with roughly $80,000 in money orders that had been sent in to cover rents and security deposits. Even worse, the scam artist had all of their personal information from the application and stole their identities, opening credit card accounts in their names!
It’s scams like this that underline how important it is to have a real estate agent working on your behalf, even if you’re renting a home or apartment. Their services are completely free to you, and they have access to resources that will help to ensure you’re never the victim of a scam artist. Listen to this story and more in this episode!