Potential Renters Warned of Scam

October 2, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015
RENTER BEWARE: A nationwide rent scam has defrauded potential tenants through online ads. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
RENTER BEWARE: A nationwide rent scam has defrauded potential tenants through online ads. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

NEW YORK—Potential renters are being warned of a scam that has defrauded potential renters around the country. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) sent an alert out this week, alleging that phony ads are being listed on online classified sites such as Craigslist.

Victims are answering the ads, and are told by the supposed landlord that they need to wire as much as $1,400 as a deposit to receive the keys to the home, said the BBB. If the victims asked if they could check out the property first, the landlords claimed that they were out of the country and could not show the property.

"Online classifieds have made finding rental properties much more convenient in recent years and millions of people have had successful transactions on sites like Craigslist," said Claire Rosenzweig, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Metropolitan New York, in a statement.

"Unfortunately though, what is convenient for consumers is often just as convenient for scammers, who have also found a way to make a quick buck by taking advantage of unsuspecting, trusting renters all across the country."

Many shocked homeowners who have their house up for sale have received knocks from people planning to move into their new rental home, according to the BBB.

The scammers often take photos of the "for sale" sign, along with the house, and post them into the rental section online.

There are 36 million renter-occupied units in the U.S. according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. This is one-third of all occupied housing units.

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