Beware of rental scams! Wire transfers and long-distance inquiries are red flags.
Beware of Scams and Other Internet Fraud
Scams are a reality of shopping online and offline. You should always be wary of giving personal information, financial information, or payments of any kind to people you don’t know personally.
Red Flags for Scams
Requests to wire funds via MoneyGram or Western Union
Most scams involve a request to wire funds. Do not wire funds to anyone you haven’t met personally. This is a real bonehead thing to do anyway, besides does anyone even use MoneyGrams anymore? Scammers create convincing reasons why they need to deal remotely. Likewise, do not accept wire funds that you did not initiate.
Most scams come from users in foreign countries who claim to be interested in purchasing or renting out a home. Be wary of claims from people who are contacting you from abroad because they are missionaries, U.N. workers, or in the military.
Requests for verification codes
If you are asked to provide a code sent to your cell phone via text or phone call, this is a scam. If the request comes from someone like me it is OK to accept the network charges.
Requests for personal or financial information
Do not provide your bank account number or Social Security Number to unknown sources. First verify it is a trusted source and then only provide this information sparingly. I only put this in here because there still seem to be folks who are just now climbing from under a rock and haven’t heard this is not a good idea.
Typos and sob stories
Emails filled with spelling and grammatical errors are usually a sign of fraud. British spelling such as “favour” instead of “favor” is also a sign of a rental scam. Messages involving stories of family or financial issues or of agents who charge too high a premium are usually fraud. Again, if one of these emails or letters came from me please call me before you post my “grammer” mishaps to Facebook!
Report Scams and Fraud
If you believe you have been scammed, report the incident to the FTC. If you sent money via Western Union or MoneyGram, report the incident immediately: if the recipient hasn’t collected the money yet, the wire transfer company can reverse the transfer.
When reporting scams, include as much as possible of the following: the name and address of the sender, the send location, the date and amount of the transfer, the transfer fee, the date and actual location of the receipt, the name of the receiver, any information recorded regarding the receiver’s identification, the reference number for the transfer, and the details of the nature of the issue.
Examples of Scams
Some of the emails are actual emails received by some of our friends and clients others are a simple dramatization (the narrator says in a slight London accent) to point out how absurd these emails can actually be.
“I’m out of the country and need you to wire me the deposit.”
How the scam works: You find a great rental (it’s usually too good to be true), but the landlord is located out of state or out of the country. They’ll rent it to you and mail you the keys if you just send a deposit.
Tip: Don’t wire money to anyone you haven’t met in person. If it looks like a great deal and is too good to be true, it’s likely a scam. You will lose your money, and the place you were looking at isn’t really even on the market.
Thanks for your email and interest in renting my house.
Property is available for move in at the moment for $1250 for the month rent and $1200 for the security deposit (Refundable After Lease period , As long as there are no damages on property after inspection). For immediate move in you would be required to make a total payment of $2450 but if you are not moving in Immediately, you would be required to make a down payment of $1200 for the security deposit Non- negotiable, to hold property till desired move in date.
Unfortunately, I would not be present in person to show you the property due to my recent job transfer to London, UK, and I do not have a local representative to show the house due to my transfer so if you are interested in renting the property and willing to work with me despite my absence then I would email the necessary papers for the lease to you, for necessary endorsement.
I also want to tell you that the neighborhood is secured and the people staying there are good.
Details of the house are below;
Security Deposit: $1200
3 Bedrooms, 1.75 Bathroom.
Location: Kirkland WA 98033.
Street Address: 12721 Northeast 101st Place.
Pets Allowed: Cats and Dogs.
Size: 1,800 sqft.
Home available for immediate move in.
This is a charming home in Kirkland.
Lovely move in ready 3 bedroom, 1.75 bath, rambler, located on quiet cul-de-sac. Approx. 1800 sq ft., built in 1989. Bright and airy interior that has been beautifully updated and well-maintained.
Exterior Sun Blockers roll-shutters for max insulation & security.
Other features include security system, built-in vacuum system and skylights. High quality throughout. Neutral colors. Master suite with private bath and two walk in closets. Spacious kitchen with tons of oak cabinets and all appliances (refrig, range, microwave). Very light and open, Washer and dryer included. 2-car attached garage with opener.
Yard service included and home is pet friendly!
If you find yourself in one of these predicaments and want help, Call Me. I’ll let you know what I think of the situation. Jim Brown 256.348.5572
“I overpaid you with my money order. Please send some back.”
How the scam works: A renter or buyer agrees to wire you money for a deposit, but accidentally sends too much. They ask you to wire back the over-payment and you must “act now.” You send the “overpayment” back and their check fails to clear the bank. Now, the money you sent is gone forever.
Tip: Don’t wire money to anyone you haven’t met in person.
Example email exchange:
“Thanks for the speedy response,i am really excited that the house is in good condition, and i really love the pictures of the house i have seen so far, i would not mind to see more pictures of the home, i would like to know if i would have any repairs what so ever.
I work with the United nations development program(UNDP).I have been working there for 5 years.
I am married with no kid. I and my Wife actually got married last year. My Full name is PXXXX AXXXX kXXXX and my Wife’s name is MXXXX DXXXX kXXXX.she is a school teacher, I am 39 years old and my wife is 35.Our current house address is 3XXXXXXXXXXXXX, EXXXXX Edinburgh Scotland.
I have never bought a property abroad before, this would be my first, and i am not working alongside any agents, I also want to know how soon you are willing to move out of the house. I and my wife are looking to relocate as soon as we have found a home we like, I would also like to know your final price for this property. please kindly get back to me asap.”
“I want to buy your property. Please send sensitive information.”
How the scam works: Someone contacts you remotely and proposes to buy or rent your property. They may ask for personal information that can be used to steal your identity or rob your bank account.
Tip: Beware long-distance inquiries or requests for personal information.
“I am interested in purchasing the property on 17 LXXXX Rd, CXXX HXXXX VXXXX CO XXXXX.Although the price is much “$4,000,000”. But i will convince my client regarding the property is a Single Family Residential. I know he must like it. I will like to view the copy of the contract of sale. As you are the real owner for this property. I will like to view the contract of sale. So it can be checked for any irregularities. Once the contract is okay and has been given the thumbs up by my client. I can then contact you and make an offer accorden to your request or Advise. I look forward hearing from you
Sincerely, Mr. CXXXX KXXXX BXXXX
7XXXX TXXXX bldg. 1-XX-XX HXXXX-IXXXX, TXXXX-XX ,
Contact me with any questions you may have. I’m here to help.