Beware the craigslist rental scam

Hunting for rental housing in any city can be exhausting, in Vancouver it can be downright depressing. Going to view small dingy 1 bedroom apartments ‘accidentally’ listed as 2 bedrooms and described as ‘huge’ and ‘bright’ is a frustrating waste of time, but it would be even worse to lose deposit money to a scam listing of an apartment that doesn’t even exist.

Craigslist has brought a convenience to rental shopping that cuts both ways – It’s easier for you to look through listings in your bathrobe, but its also easier (and free!) for con-men and scammers to grab nice pictures off the web and list fake rentals that are too good to be true.

The Vancouver Police say at least 15 people in the last month have been conned out of deposit money in face to face meetings with fake landlords, but there’s no reason a scammer even needs to be in Vancouver if you’re not paying close attention. A common scam is to list an apartment that’s too good to be true, but the purported ‘owner’ happens to be out of the country, maybe just starting a new business in Athens Greece or on a missionary trip to Asia.

They will describe the apartment in glowing terms and offer to use a service like TNT, FedEx, UPS or DHL to insure that you get the key – they’ll send you a link to a legitimate shipping website first to get your confidence and then send you a fake ‘secure’ link to make it easy for you to send them your money. Dissapointingly the key never shows up and you won’t hear from the ‘landlord’ again once your deposit is gone.

It’s not too difficult to avoid this sort of scam, just view listings with a sceptical eye and deal with local people, only giving a deposit after you’ve viewed the suite and gotten enough information out of the owner to make you comfortable. If you do make email contact with a seller on craigslist that isn’t local, take a close look at any responses you receive – The following is an example of a fake header message in an email:

** CRAIGSLIST ADVISORY — AVOID SCAMS
** Beware: cashier checks, money orders, escrow
**
Transaction: For a secure transaction we recommend TNT, Fed Ex, DHL or UPS, services because can verify the information of the seller and buyer.
** craigslist recommend
Deeann38officcee
as a trusted seller.

A common ‘phishing’ technique is shown here – make your rip-off seem legitimate by warning against ‘scams’. That alone isn’t enough to call this email a fake, but there are a couple of other indicators here that say ‘scam’. Craigslist never recommends any advertiser as a ‘trusted seller’, and they don’t recommend any shipper. A simple check of the Craigslist site confirms these points.

It looks like the lower mainland has at least one rental scam-hunter and you may find more useful information on their website. Unfortunately it all comes down to one basic point to keep in mind: if it looks ‘too good to be true’ it probably is.

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MATHAMATICAL
Guest
MATHAMATICAL
8 years 8 months ago
People who are looking to rent please do watch out. Two months ago when I was looking for a rental place I went to craigslist. The first two people I contacted on craigslist where scam artists. Both people told me I had the place and I just need to provide the damage depoist. That's when I knew it was a scam because who in their right mind would give you the place without meeting you. Also, when I asked to see the place, they said they had other people lined up to take it so I had to give the… Read more »
Ted
Guest
Ted
8 years 8 months ago

"I'll courier you the key to the place and you send me money"

You fall for something like this, consider it a tax on your stupidity and accept the fact you’re in the highest tax bracket!

Snark
Guest
Snark
8 years 8 months ago

well somebodies buying condos in Vancouver right now, so I'm not going to make assumptions about the median financial intelligence level of this city.

Snark
Guest
Snark
8 years 8 months ago

small dingy 1 bedroom apartments ‘accidentally’ listed as 2 bedrooms and described as ‘huge’ and ‘bright’

What is it with the general quality of housing in Vancouver anyways? I mean across the spectrum, not just the cheapest apartments. Even if you're looking at buying a 'starter' condo in the 4-500k range, or rentals in the over 2k/ month level. There seems to be a reigning bad design aesthetic mixed with dampness that makes for supremely depressing apartments here.

Drachen
Member
8 years 8 months ago
From the WSJ via How the World Works blog. "'When another bank holds the mortgage and the mortgage payments are current, the home-equity lender is effectively powerless to collect the debt.' But here's the best part: 'Unfortunately for home-equity lenders, many borrowers understand that pecking order, concluding there are few repercussions if they stop making payments on their home-equity loan. "Lenders are seeing people go delinquent on home equity who by all rights wouldn't be expected to go delinquent," said Dan Balkin of Wholesale Access, a Maryland research and consulting firm that specializes in the mortgage industry.'" It's nice to… Read more »
JADEEAST
Guest
JADEEAST
8 years 8 months ago

Very good article in the Tyee.

http://thetyee.ca/News/2008/03/12/Evicted/

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
8 years 8 months ago

Rental Scam what a joke

robert s
Guest
robert s
8 years 8 months ago

Here is the newest onw as of march 17/2008

we called from craiaglist to view apartment from 600 drake the husband lives on a mission in africa his wife lives in florida they have a secretay you send money to david halls he is rev scott on a mission she is wife living in florida they will send key once they get the money by DHL the place is fully furnished for 700 dollars they never asked for damage deposit

Drew
Guest
Drew
8 years 8 months ago

we almost got scammed tonite but it sounded "too good to be true" and set the hair on the back of my neck standing straight up! A 'woman' (Stacy Fagbo), who emailed in very broken english, supposedly out of the country getting remarried to a man named "Michael"…has a great house in Victoria BC for rent for good price, furnished, etc..didn't ask my name or any info..just to send her the money…there was more but it was just too ridiculous sounding so we didn't

3185 Cadboro Bay Rd.,

Victoria, BC

michelle
Guest
michelle
8 years 8 months ago
Here's another good one:Sorry for the late reply, Had to get to the airport to pick my wife.The property is available for rent/lease right now.I must confess that you are a lucky person because I don't really want to rent/lease the property but my wife has advised me to do so, due to our present location-transfer from Work to our West African office. My wife came here to join me with my kids after some months here, I will have to be here for 3 years. My mother is recuperating in the Bahamas from surgery. My wife come along with… Read more »
CeeCee
Guest
CeeCee
8 years 8 months ago
Just got this from emailing a Craigslist post: Thanks for your email and it is my gladness to hearing from you.My name is Rev David Halls the owner of the house you are making enquiry of.Actually I resided in the house with my family,such as my wife and my only daugther before and presently we had packed due to my transfer from my working place and now situated in England and presently my house is still available for rent including the utilities like hydro,heat washer and security,Everything in the home is well fully furnised. Moreso Now,I went for a Crusade… Read more »
CeeCee
Guest
CeeCee
8 years 8 months ago
Argh – and another to watch for! How annoying! From: Damian Long [mailto:damian60006@gmail.com] Subject: Re: $800 / 2br – 2BA CONDO FIRST MONTH FREE IMMEDIATE MOVE IN!! Peace of the Lord Be with you and thanks for your email and interest in our home.I'm Damian and i work for the Red Cross society. I and my family came to Africa on 3/16/08 in supporting long term needs for clean water in Kenya, Sudan, Mali, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Benin, Republic, Nigeria and Ethiopia – providing the everyday needs of more than 389,500 people. Also Committed to mitigating the impact of… Read more »
BB
Guest
BB
8 years 8 months ago

i've been looking on craigslist lately for a place to rent and found two ''to good to be true houses" for rent only 900 a month for a 3br. I e-mailed both and got the same response we're in Africa and my husband got a job and wont be here for 10 yrs. I took my keys and documents with me. I can send u the key to were ever u want it sent and you can western union the deposit. They main sign when it is a scam is when they ask you to western union the money.

Audra Winter
Guest
Audra Winter
8 years 8 months ago
I got the same email: Re: $450 / 3br – 3FULL BATH HOUSE FIRST MONTH FREE FOR IMMEDIATE MOVE IN!!‏ From: Winifred Warren (biggylida2002@yahoo.com) Sent: Sat 3/29/08 9:37 AM To: me Peace of the Lord Be with you and thanks for your email and interest in our home.I'm damian and i work for the Red Cross society. I and my family came to Africa on 3/16/08 in supporting long term needs for clean water in Kenya, Sudan, Mali, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Benin, Republic, Nigeria and Ethiopia – providing the everyday needs of more than 389,500 people. Also Committed to… Read more »
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