New York Apartment: 2-bedroom vacation rental in Greenwich Village (NY-9572) photo New York Apartment: 2-bedroom Bed & Breakfast in Greenwich Village (NY-9572) photo

After sharing with you some tips on how to avoid rental scams and determine if you are dealing with a legitimate company or agent before choosing an apartment,  this week we wanted to show you how to spot clues that the apartment you are looking to rent may be a fake.

Rental scams are on the rise, so it is more important than ever to look into the person or company that you are dealing with and make sure they are legitimate. Here are a few things to look out for:

1)    Is there a legitimate company name on the contract that you can investigate further? : We have seen many fake contracts with “company names” like “Charming and Cozy Apartment in Time Square” or “1br-Beautiful Option for Hotels”. Those are not business names; they are lifted straight out of a rental ad!

2)    You are receiving communications from multiple email addresses or names: If the email address contains a company domain name (the part just after the @ symbol in the email) you can look up the company to get more information on them.

3)    There are errors in the rental dates or prices quoted: Most scammers cannot be bothered to take the time to change the details for every scam or they are scamming so many people that they become confused themselves. That is a major red flag!

4)    The directions to the apartment don’t make sense: Google Map the address and see if the directions you have been given are legitimate. Many scammers don’t know the area and have no idea how to get to the apartment. A legitimate rental agency or broker will know the best way  to get to the apartments they are listing.

5)    The wording of the contract or communication from the agent or company is awkward or has spelling or grammatical mistakes: It may also have numerous repetitions or contradictions within it. Legitimate companies and brokers will have professionals reviewing their contracts to make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors.

New York Apartment: Alcove Studio Apartment Rental in Clinton Hill (NY-14911) New York Apartment: Alcove Studio Apartment Rental in Clinton Hill (NY-14911)

If you show up at your destination and realize you have been scammed:

1. Of course, find an alternate accommodation.

2.    Once you are settled in a new accommodation you can alert your bank or credit card company to the fraud so they can stop payment dispute the charge.

3.    Keep copies of all communications with the person who scammed you and a record of all monies paid and the accounts involved. There may be bits of information within those communications that can help police track down the scammer.

4.    File a police report with the local police to document the incident. Insurance agencies often ask for a police report of any alleged theft. If you have travel insurance, check whether you are covered for this type of loss, as each plan is different.

So, do what your instinct tells you — do what all tourists are known for — ask a lot of questions and always check the directions – and you can avoid a rental scam!

Share you experiences and comments below.

Until next time……SAFE & HAPPY TRAVELS!



Related apartment rental posts from New York Habitat:
  1. Tips from the Pros: How to avoid apartment rental scams
  2. Apartment Rental Tips: Travel Insurance
  3. Apartment Rental Tips: Extending Your Trip
  4. Apartment Rental Tips: Hear From the Pro’s
  5. Apartment Rental Tips: Family-sized accommodations


 

44 Responses to “More Tips on Avoiding Apartment Rental Scams”

  1. Stephen Says:

    This is a great article. Thank you! I have seen so many people lately falling for scams just like these while attempting to rent an apartment in new York. There are very helpful agenices out there, so please just do your research before making any type of payment!

  2. Gloria Says:

    Thanks for this article. I had to show it to my friend who just almost got scammed! These are great tips to stop from getting scammed, but if it does happen, remember to not be hard on yourself because it truly can happen to anyone, you just have to be careful!

  3. Nick Says:

    Seriously, when looking for an apartment in New York City on Craigslist, I saw so many scams it was ridiculous.

  4. Jamie Says:

    Looking to move to New York…thanks for the tips.

  5. Sarah Says:

    Like you say in your article it is true if Google map is not able to located the street then you can be almost sure that this is a scam! Any streets and avenues of New York City are in major web sites!!

  6. Emma Says:

    Scams are pretty much awful. They happen all the time, and not just on Craig’s List. A lot of people don’t like Craig’s List because of scams, but they happen anywhere, and not just in big cities like New York, either.

  7. Betty Says:

    All this info look very interesting and useful. However, it appears that you really have to pay attention when you want to rent an apartment in New York. Be aware of Scams travellers!!!

  8. Simon Says:

    It’s ashamed that people still have a need to scam their fellow man. I wonder how they will feel if someone turns the table on them. Thank God there’s still some honest people and in your case an angency.

  9. matthias hagenow Says:

    hello

    i read your tips.
    but after i recognized that i have ripped of abt renting a apartment in new york.
    and this person is still very active and i found other comments of victims too.
    i went to the police department in 54th street to make a file. but they told me that they could not help.
    thats it. lost 1500 dollars

    kind regards
    matthias

  10. Linda - New York Habitat Legal Department Says:

    The best way to avoid being victim to a scam is to do your research before securing a rental and handing over any money.

    Afterwards, while there isn’t much you can usually do to recover your lost money if you didn’t deal with an actual company or licensed agent, you should report the ad and person you made contact with to the site where you found the rental advertisement so they can make sure it is removed before more people fall for the same scam.

    Go on forums and blogs and detail your experience so people who are being baited into the same scam on different sites can recognize the similarities. Scammers may change contact names or sites they post on but often use the same wording in their ads or contracts. Many copy pictures of legitimate properties they found for rent online and use them with multiple fake rental addresses.

    Unfortunately with scams done via the internet, where there is no legitimate company or individual to make a claim against, sometimes the most the police can do is document an incident report for insurance purposes.

    A site you can use to report an Internet crime to the FBI is http://www.ic3.gov

    People who are approached with a “job opportunity” and asked to use their Paypal account to receive and forward funds to another party should also beware, as many of them are left paying the bill for the scammer when victims dispute the transactions.

  11. Jayna Says:

    wow. I would hate to lose money and ruin my vacation by being scammed that’s why you should rent from a trusted source.

  12. Martin Says:

    I almost fell for one of these scams while looking for an apartment to rent for a few days in NYC
    A lot of posts obviously are scams and I did not have the energy and the patience to find a legitimate one….
    Unfortunately I have lost confidence in Craigslist and I ended up booking an hotel room, maybe more expensive but at the end such a saving in headaches and worries……..

  13. Jeanne Says:

    My friends and I were just scammed- I put way too much trust in my friend who saw the ad on craigslist and met with the guy and assured me everything was on the up and up. i didnt even bother to make sure he checked out. he showed us the apartment, asked for a lot of paperwork, and had us give him the security deposit in cash/money order which i cant believe we even did. its all amazingly foolish of us. here are my tips:

    1. refuse to ever pay cash
    2. check out them and all their info before doing ANYTHING
    3. if they say the landlord or their boss is ‘out of town’ then get out right away, they should be able to put you in touch with someone other than themselves
    4. watch out for PRESSURE, such as ‘actually the landlord needs the money today instead of tomorrow’ or extra paperwork not previously discussed.
    5. keep copies of everything, yes, but remember that it really isnt much good if the scammer turns out to be a bona fide ghost.

    do these things and maybe you will not be a poor robbed fool of a woman like myself

  14. Linda - New York Habitat Legal Department Says:

    Wow Jeanne, I am so sorry to hear this happened to you! I’ve seen far too many trusting people taken advantage of in rental scams, that’s why I wrote this blog with tips that might help prevent others from falling victim.

    At least you tried to dig a little deeper than a lot of victims who surprisingly send cash before ever investigating or looking into anything. Physically seeing the apartment or meeting the person you’re dealing with if you are not going through a company with a reputation, is a good idea. I would add that if you’re not using a rental or travel agency you should ask to see a lease or ownership proof from the person you are renting from and try to use a traceable method of payment such as a transfer directly into an account in the owner/leaseholder’s name. I’m curious to know what happened when you showed up to check in to the apartment. If this person had access to show you the apartment and he isn’t in fact the tenant/owner, he might either know the tenant in the apartment he showed or be connected with the building in some capacity to have had such access.

    Thank you for including your personal experience, I’m sure it will be a wake-up call to others. The more we expose these scammmer’s ways, the more difficult it will be for them to get away with it next time…

    Linda
    New York Habitat Legal Department

  15. Bruce Says:

    I was scammed for a 600 EURO ($800 USD) deposit
    I should have thought thru – if it is too good to be true, it is…
    I was scammed by a Craigslist ad,
    First – the person was saying he was trying to save me money by not going thru a broker.
    Second – The pictures had been copied off a broker’s website and the file names had not even been changed.
    Third – his paypal email account was not the same as his yahoo mail account. He said he did this for business reasons.
    Forth – Paypal is not like a credit card, it is more like a cashiers check.

    Here’s how the scam worked, I sent in the deposit to save the apartment, because he had someoneelse ready to also put down a deposit but I was his “preferred” renter. This set the hook, and made me move fast so I wouldn’t loose this rental.
    I sent in the deposit via Paypal and noted on the paypal payment all of the details of the rental agreement.
    The paypal account holder, a third party, took the deposit money and sent a Western Union check to Nigeria. The third party was paid a 10% processing fee to do this for this person in Nigeria that was not able to set up a US paypal account.
    When I realized I was scammed, just a day after the check had cleared from Paypal, I was not able to do anything.
    I did go to paypal and filed a claim, which they researched. They agreed with me, but, because the money was not in the other person’s account, they could not get it back. Paypal is not like a credit card, it is a clearing account for funds. After the funds have cleared, like a check, a stop payment can not be made.
    Lesson learned to research the email addresses on google, and facebook. I would have found that the paypal account was owned by someone in Washington state. I was able to get a hold of her at her office, but she does not have the ability to pay. I have filed an internet fraud against this person, also looked at a civil suit in Washington State. Both would cost me more time and money then what I lost in this lesson.

    Next year, I will be looking to New York Habitat to rent an apartment.

  16. Linda R. Says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, Bruce. Let it be a wake up call to other people out there to do their research before sending someone their hard earned money for an apartment rental.
    It seems you had some doubts along the way when things didn’t quite seem to add up. One piece of advice I stand by is to trust your intuition!
    The scam you mention is a typical one I have seen many times, where the scammer copies pictures from legitimate sites and funnels funds through other people’s Paypal accounts.
    I tend to question whether these people accepting payments on behalf of someone they don’t even know in Nigeria and then forwarding them the money (and don’t forget — getting a cut of it )are really all that clueless. Just Google “Nigerian rental scam” and you’ll find information about this scam all over the web.
    Maybe if we start holding these people responsible they’ll be a little more selective in who they agree to transact business with. In the meantime, use the Internet to expose them and get the word out. And of course…send me your tips and advice so I can add it to my Blog!
    And remember, if you choose not to go through a broker, travel agent or well know company for a vacation rental, buyer beware!

    Linda R.
    New York Habitat Legal Department

  17. Jessica H. Says:

    I just found out a few hours ago that I was a victim of an apartment rental scam. I reported the incident to the web site you mentioned above. I also let craigslist know about it, but I know there isn’t much they can do.
    Craigslist does a good job of warning you BUT I didn’t click the link on “how to avoid scams” because I am too trusting and I guess naive.
    I lost $900. I wanted to report it to the NYPD but after reading these responses I don’t think it will be necessary.
    I am worried about identity theft now – they have my home address and cell number. Should I be worried about that?
    Thanks for listening. I’m just sick about this! And I’ve cancelled my trip as well.

  18. Linda R. Says:

    The risk of identity theft would depend on how much personal information you provided to the person you were in contact with. You should never give social security numbers or bank account information. Some of the latest rental scams ask victims to fill out phony rental applications where they provide social security numbers, background, and financial information to supposedly get “approval” for the rental.

    While some buildings do require this information for credit checks on long-term rentals and sublets, you should avoid providing this type of information to anyone other than licensed agents or brokers or to the building Management Company directly.

    To find out if your identity has been stolen, monitor your accounts and bank and credit card statements each month, and check your credit report on a regular basis. The more vigilant you are in doing this, the quicker you will spot suspicious activity, which will help you report it before it gets completely out of control.

    If you have provided the scammer with very sensitive information, you may want to file a complaint or police report even if your information has not yet been misused. Reporting the incident may help if your information is misused in the future and you need to prove the date or circumstances of the incident.

    Linda R.
    New York Habitat Legal Department

  19. Linda R. - New York Habitat Legal Department Says:

    On the subject of rental scams, I wanted to post an excerpt from a letter one of our clients sent to the Mayor of NYC with a thoughtful suggestion on preventing rental scams:
    ——
    December 6, 2007

    Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
    City Hall
    New York, NY 10007

    Dear Mayor Bloomberg:

    I am writing to you because I think that the City of New York has an opportunity to prevent apartment rental scams in our City.

    My first observation as I searched New York City’s travel related pages (i.e. NYC & company; and NYCtourist.com) to see what was listed under accommodations, I noticed that only hotels were listed and there were no recommendations for Bed & Breakfasts, or apartment rental services. […] Paris, France provides a much better service for travelers to their city. When I click on Parisinfo.com (Paris’ official information site) they not only provide hotel listings, broken down by neighborhoods, but in addition, list Bed & Breakfasts, at least 28 Apartment rental agencies, and a few apartment exchange connections.

    I recently traveled to Paris last Fall, and decided to economize by trying an apartment rental. Not being able to speak French, I researched rentals from New York City, rather than Paris, and found an organization called New York Habitat. They are members of ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents); licensed by the State of New York; participant of BBB (Accredited Businesses) and its reliability program (BBB online). […]

    I believe it would serve New York City very well if a compilation was made of legitimate organizations such as New York Habitat, who provide a very important service for travelers to New York City, especially those traveling with families. There are also many Bed & Breakfast establishments in New York City that can only be found by word of mouth. It would be helpful if tourists could see those names listed on the City’s websites.

    I was happy to learn that CBS aired another program showing the good side of New York rentals, and New York Habitat was profiled. […] if sufficient information had been available through New York City’s many websites, then tourists visiting the Big Apple would know they had a reliable source to seek accommodations within their budget […]And more important, the tourists seen on CBS’s broadcast would not have been scammed.

    Sincerely,

    Josephine L.

  20. Bill Says:

    I’m a landlord and I have seen more evidence of this coming up as more people try to do everything over the internet. You should never send money to anyone site unseen. Especially with all the rental scams currently going on.

    Bill
    http://www.investors.housez.ca/blogroll/rental-scammers-explained/

  21. Linda R. - New York Habitat Legal Department Says:

    I received an email in German from one of our blog readers with questions on rental scams that I thought I would share below.
    ——————————–
    READER QUESTION (translated from German)

    “I now turn to a broker because I’m not sure certain apartments exist.
    Is it usual in Paris to pay a deposit and the rent whilst I have not as yet seen the apartment and I can’t be sure that I’ll get the keys? What’s the use of a pre-contract (preliminary agreement)? How can I make sure that I
    won’t be cheated? The rentor did send me 15 photos but I’m very skeptical as to whether this man really exists. The odd thing is that he is staying in leek/Great Britain and only wants to come over once he’s sure the deposit is here. Are there then ways to deposit money.

    I have now responded to an ad twice. There have been email communications. But it was each time the same. First pay, then see the apartment. This does not look serious to me.

    This is my contribution to your blog and I would very much appreciate an honest answer. The apartment rental is for my son. He is a student in Paris and is desperately looking for something.

    Many thanks,

    Kindest regards
    Gabi
    ——————————-
    REPLY

    Dear Gabi,

    Whenever possible, it is a good idea to ask to physically visit the apartment. You should not have to pay anything just to view an apartment, payment should only be made when you agree to rent the apartment. If you agree to rent without viewing the apartment, you take the risk.

    Often it is not convenient or even possible for the renter to view an apartment beforehand if they are renting from a distance. In that case the safest way to proceed is to go through a broker or property management company. They verify the legitimacy of the apartments they list and
    have visited the apartments themselves. There are too many scams out there, sending money to someone you don’t know is just too risky.

    The only way I would rent an apartment I’ve never seen through an individual is if no money was due upfront. This situation is rare though, since most owners ask for a certain amount up front to secure the reservation even if they are renting out their property through an agency. Owners want a guarantee against clients cancelling and leaving them with lost rental income. Property owners who are out of town or reside elsewhere would be wise to hire a property manager who manage rentals and show the property to prospective tenants.

    If you are renting through an agency a pre-contract is basically your proof that you have reserved the property. Should any unforeseeable events prevent the rental from happening, your cancellation and refund terms will be explained there. However, a contract is only as legitimate as the party you are contracting with. If you are relying on a contract with an individual you have never met, you have no way of really verifying if the person is who they say they are. Scammers often use contracts to make
    the rental look legitimate but these contracts end up being useless if you find out you’ve been scammed.

    While some people are willing to take that gamble with their money, I say it’s better to be safe than sorry.

    Sincerely,

    Linda R.
    New York Habitat Legal Department

  22. Eliza Says:

    Can I also suggest searching the company or persons name on the Internet? I did this before confirming an apartment with someone recently and discovered many people had recommended not going with the company because their deposits had been stolen. Dodged a bullet there!

  23. Lidia Says:

    Hi
    I rented from real company but this company scam me to,when i came to rent last year the leasing agent told me that they run special now 1 month free month was Febuary,when i came to sign lease i was expecting 1 month upfront but she told me that i get first and last mont half which was fine with me ,when my last month came they denied everythingand ask me for proof .When you think you can trust people ,they will take advantage of you.The worst thing is that they still run this add.

  24. Linda R. - New York Habitat Legal Department Says:

    It seems that although the company you rented from may have been “real”, they were not very reputable. That’s why it is always important to check and make sure any special offer, specific terms, discount, or just about anything promised to you to induce you to sign the lease is actually written into your lease. Otherwise the written lease trumps any verbal agreement you may have had. Always get it in writing!

  25. Russian Woman Says:

    Rental scams are widespread all over the world. People should be very careful nowadays. Thanks for helpful tips.

  26. Mick Says:

    Hi, we’ve just been scammed by a person renting an apartment in nyc on the Craigslist website. We feel so dumb that we were taken for a ride. Judging by google street view I doubt whether the building ever existed! initially we were asked to wire 30% deposit into his “accountant’s” bank account. At his insistence a month later we stupidly wired another 30% deposit into another account under another name. When he asked for the full balance now instead of on arrival we pulled out and requested a refund..guess what…haven’t heard from him since. Lesson learned. Hope these postings help out other innocent people before they to part with their hard earned cash.

  27. Linda - New York Habitat Legal Department Says:

    Checking Google maps to verify the address is a good starting point, while not 100% definitive, at least you can weed out the scams that don’t even use a real property address.

    Since scammers do not use their own accounts but run the money through other people’s accounts, what you typically see is that they tell you to deposit money into the account of a person other than the property owner, especially their “accountant” or other “business partner”. If that account happens to be in a different country from where the property is located, that’s red flag number two.

    Changing payment terms from what was originally stated and agreed to is also suspicious. Many times when the scammers see how easy it was to get you to send money in the first place, they get greedy and try to get even more.

    When he asked you to transfer money yet again and gave yet another different account name, that should have really raised some concerns.

    We all know the saying “hindsight is 20/20″ and when you take the time to look back on something after the fact it all seems so clear (and clearly a scam). So, instead of regretting it afterward, be proactive, stop and take the time to really think things over before sending a dime to anyone. Do some research, speak with the person over the phone, test their knowledge, ask a lot of questions, ask directions on how to get there, ask about the nearest public transportation, and verify it all on a city or subway map etc, ask them what their relation is to the property they are oferring, and if you get an uneasy feeling about any of the interaction, trust your intuition and do not proceed.

    If you do a little fact checking beforehand you won’t end up with an empty checking account afterwards.

  28. Ashley Madison Says:

    I think it’s awful to come to a new city and to become a victim of rental scams. Your tips can help lots of people. First of all it is necessary to be very attentive.

  29. Paola Says:

    Dear all,

    I write from Italy and I would like just to receive a confirmation about the existence of a rental company working in New York named DENNIS & RAY VACATION RENTALS. Tel. 386-XXX-XXXX. The owner or co.owner should be called Raymond Vizcarrondo.
    This is because I have booked one of their apartments for my vacation in August and already given them an advance payment equal to more than half of the total, so I would like to know if I can trust them (I would like to, because, as far as I have seen by the photos, the apartment I have chosen is beautiful!!!)

    I don’t know if you are the right reference person whom I can ask this
    question to, but I don’t know anybody in New York who can help me. In case you cannot help me, kindly let me have the e-mail of someone who can do it.

    Please reply to me as soon as possible.

    Thanking you in advance,

    Paola

  30. Linda - New York Habitat Legal Department Says:

    Hello Paola,

    Thank you for your email to New York Habitat. While there are many reputable people who are not brokers and rent their own property themselves without a company or a website, I would be careful and do research on the property and person before sending ANY money.

    I tried looking up the company you referred to “Dennis & …” and I do not find a website or anything. Where did you find this vacation rental listed? The number you provided goes straight to an automated voicemail where you leave a message. If you can never reach a live person at that number I always find that a bit suspicious. I always recommend that you speak to the person on the phone and are able to reach them directly without always getting a voicemail service.

    What is the address of the property? The person should be able to give you the property address that you can check on Google Maps or something similar. If you have someone in NY who can go see the property for you, ask the owner if you could have someone come see the property.

    The person you are dealing with should be able to prove their connection to the property. Are they the owner or a Broker/ Manager? If they are the owner, I would ask for proof of that. Do they have documents to prove that or a utility bill that they can provide in their name at the address? Are they a Broker/Manager? Then they should be able to provide a copy of their license.

    How are they asking you to pay? I would not use Western Union, Moneygram etc as they are very dangerous because anyone can pick up the money, they do not do any verification of identity and there is no way to trace it.

    Credit card payment may offer more security because I believe they would have to have a recognized company to be able to get a merchant credit card account and you are usually protected by your credit card company and can file a dispute or chargeback if there is a problem. If you are being asked to wire money, is the name on the account the same name as on the property records or the Broker’s License?

    This is a growing problem and we are trying to keep people as aware and protected as possible. For more tips on how to spot a scam, see my other Blog entry on the subject.

    http://www.nyhabitat.com/blog/2009/04/22/how-to-spot-rental-scam/

    Feel free to send me a copy of the ad you responded to or the contract if you’d like me to take a look at it.

    Kind regards,

    Linda
    ——————–

    (RESPONSE FROM PAOLA):

    Dear Linda,

    I really thank you for your e-mail because you are the first who has given me detailed and clear explanations.

    Actually you probably think that I was completely stupid to fall right into the trap they organized for me, because, not only have I already sent about 70% of the total fee I owed them for the period of the rent (15 days), but they also involved me in a sort of raffle (with a mysterious Nokia Communication Company) among their renters (if they really have any!!) to celebrate the 5th anniversary of their company, which cost me even more money.

    As a matter of fact I was really stupid and naive (it was the first time for me to rent an apartment for vacation), but anyway, I tell you what I know of them, or better, from reading your Blogs, now I realize, what I don’t know (sigh!!!)

    I first contacted them through the website craigslist.org

    They told me that they are called Dennis & [removed]. I always had contacts only with a certain Dennis, who told me he and his wife and a partner manage the rentals.

    He changed e-mail address just a few weeks ago. First he had:
    [removed]@hotmail.com and now [removed]@hotmail.com

    They had a website, but now it is frozen (just after my pre-payments…!) They told me that they had to re-construct their website and upgrade it because the authority said that all vacation renter’s websites should be upgraded every 3 month, but up to the moment I have not seen a new site!

    I made three payments: the first two regarding the rent fee and the third to get a Registration Paper that seemed necessary to take part to the Raffle (which they called Anniversary Bonanza Price). I made the following bank wirings:

    Bank Name: TD Bank

    Bank Address: 640 Pelham [removed]
    Name On The Account: Raymond [V.]

    and then they changed it because they were told by the Authority that a new account should be used every 4 months.
    So then they opened a new account :

    Bank Name:- Capital One Bank
    Bank Address: 2159 White [removed]
    Name On Account: Raymond [V.]

    Then I sent part of the cost of a Registration Paper necessary to take part to the “famous” Raffle to Western Union, again in the name of Mr. Ramond [V.]

    Name: Raymond [V.]
    City: [removed]
    State: NY
    Zipcode: [removed]
    Country: United States

    and attached is the Registration Paper they sent (after I paid USD450!!), but in reality, as you can see, it’s nothing. Moreover, the signatures below are copied and pasted !!! After all the payments and all the e-mails exchanged, what I have are only the attached receipts.

    And now they are pushing me to add other money (3,450 USD) because they said that I was the first winner of the Raffle and I should pay the Clearance Document to Nokia in order to release the payment, so their bank (Sterling Bank ….located in London, but from Nigeria!!!) could make the wiring!

    I will never pay that amount … at last I have learnt the lesson, but I’m afraid that probably I will never have back all the money I have sent.

    I’m still wondering how I could be so stupid, considering that I’m over 40, so I’m supposed to have had some experience in my life….

    I really don’t know how to thank you, just to have read your e-mail was a load off my chest, and if you will be in New York mid-August , I would be pleased to meet you and offer you something to drink!!!!

    Kindest Regards,

    Paola

    ———————-
    (RESPONSE FROM LINDA):

    Hi Paola,

    I looked at all the documents you sent me and it is definitely a SCAM so DON’T send any more money!!

    The address of the apt from Dennis & … is not even an actual address in Manhattan. Also the price for that new apartment you found is also unreasonably low, $100/night for 2 bedrooms in a luxury building with an indoor pool and gym, doorman etc etc, is not realistic for NYC.

    Changing websites and emails and bank accounts is also a sure sign of a scam because they are hiding from all the people they scammed and opening new accounts to erase their tracks and find more people to scam. I have noticed that they always try to get people to send money and if they see how easy it was to get the person to do this, they then get greedy and ask for more and more money for different reasons.

    The Western Union payment is most likely unrecoverable. But you should let your bank know about the bank transfers you made and that the accounts were a rental scam. Maybe they can contact the bank the wires were sent to. Both banks are located in Bronx, NY so that could be where this scammer or someone working in connection with him lives.

    When you are in NY you can also try filing a police report and give them the name on the account, the account #, bank name and address you transferred money to. Since the accounts seem to be in Bronx, NY that would be within their jurisdiction.

    LINDA
    ———–

    (RESPONSE FROM PAOLA):

    Dear Linda,

    I’m still in contact by e-mail with the elusive Dennis & [removed] Company trying to get my money back, but I don’t think I will succeed!!

    Anyway, it seems that Lady Fortune (it’s not you, though you resemble it a lot…!) has started to smile on me, because I have found an apartment owned by a friend of mine who will not be in NY at that time so she’s letting me stay at her place.

    At least at my arrival I will know to have a sure roof above my head and this will mostly make up for the money given to the vacation rental company.

    Today I’m going to write to my bank summarizing what happened with Dennis & [removed] Company and giving them all the bank data I have of Mr. Raymond [V.]. When I will come to NY I will also try to contact the police to make the complete report of this matter.

    Thank you for the kind help Linda. I have your e-mail to contact you when I will be in NY for that drink!

    PAOLA
    ——————-
    (LINDA’S RESPONSE):

    Your story will help other travelers and renters to recognize a scam when they see one, thanks for sharing Paola! I’ll drink to that!

  31. Ben Says:

    One common thread that I see in a lot of rental scam messages I get off Craigslist is that they often use the ‘USD’ abbreviation when referencing the price. Few locals will ask about the $600USD rent.

  32. Omar Desouki Says:

    Dear Linda,
    I write from Italy and I would like just to have a feedback about the followings rental option:
    - Central Park West Brownstone xx W xxrd Street – New York, NY xxx
    Innkeeper: Sally xxxx Phone: +1-212-XXX-xxxx (mail: XXXX@planetamex.com)
    - Rental Agent: Jefferson xxx (J. xxx Housing Property) the owner of the apartment is T. xxx
    I hope you can help me cause to have a feedback, I don’t have other ways to check before booking one of this two options.
    Thank a lot, Best Regards
    Omar

    ——————————————————
    (Identifying information including names, phone numbers, addresses or emails have been altered or removed for privacy purposes)

  33. Linda - New York Habitat Legal Department Says:

    Ciao Omar,

    Thank you for your email. I’m always happy when I can help people to avoid a rental scam whenever possible. It’s heartbreaking to see someone who was the victim of a scam walk through the door of our New York Habitat office as we’re closing for the night asking for help, desperate to find a place to stay because they were scammed out of their hard-earned money in a rental scam and now are roaming NYC with their luggage and nowhere to stay.

    I should start off by saying that the information out there on properties is not always 100% accurate and sometimes the City is behind in its updates, however based on the information you provided for this rental property, while the address seems to be an actual address, I cannot find any of the names you mentioned associated with the ownership or management of that building. Furthermore, you mentioned the name of someone claiming to be the “owner of the apartment” (although you didn’t provide an apartment number), however the building appears to be a rental building, so the apartments would not have individual owners, just perhaps an owner of the entire building and none of the names you supplied seem to match that of the owner or management of the building. I cannot say definitively whether the people you are in contact with are legitimate, because they could sometimes be managers or brokers and without further details about their status I can’t be sure, but I would definitely question why there are so many different people, names, and companies that you are dealing with, that always makes me suspicious. I tried looking up the names you gave me as brokers or agents in NY and I don’t find any of them. So I would suggest you ask them to explain further and provide proof to back up their claims.
    If the person claims to be an agent or broker ask to see a copy of their New York State license. Maybe this information (or their inability to supply it) will clarify their relation to the property (if any).

    Researching properties based on limited information is a bit more difficult than the research we do when listing properties with New York Habitat. That is because our listing procedures require owners to provide us with all the information and details we require in order to be able to fully evaluate the property. And we always visit the properties ourselves just to be sure, once the preliminary information has checked out.

    Grazie per la tua domanda,

    Linda – New York Habitat Legal Department

  34. New York Maids Says:

    Reading the comments, I’m truly astounded that rental scams are happening and some people are falling for it. The lengths unscrupulous people will make to make a buck. They should just channel all their energy to working at a legitimate job or starting a legitimate business. I believe in Karma so to all swindlers out there, your time will come.

    Answer from the New York Habitat Team:
    Hello New York Maids,
    Yes, rental scams are unethical, and they hurt travelers, real estate agents, real estate companies, & owners. The best way to protect travelers is to pass this information and knowledge we have and for others to do the same. We invite you to read our latest article about the scam topic and to share it with your entourage to increase awareness: http://www.nyhabitat.com/blog/2011/02/04/how-to-spot-an-apartment-rental-scam/

  35. Christina Says:

    I went on my first trip to New York from Australia in 2009 and was scammed on my accommodation.

    After months of sifting through options on Craigslist, I came across something that seemed legitimate and
    they had a PayPal account, so I thought it must be ok. No it wasn’t :( we got there and the place didn’t exist…and
    we ended up having to stay in a hotel for the entire 2 weeks. Cost a fortune! We reported it PayPal and Craigslist
    and thought they would take it seriously, but they could care less. PayPal, didn’t even reply.
    I’m so grateful to find a company that I can now trust and book with in the future.

    =================================
    Answer from the New York Habitat Team:
    Hello, Cristina.
    Unfortunately, rental scams are major problem, and what could seem like a legit accommodation, could end up just being a scam! These scams hurt everyone in the vacation rental business including the traveler, apartment owners and the real estate agencies.
    At New York Habitat, we take scams very seriously, and have written several articles in our blog dealing with this subject to increase the awareness for travelers and we strongly encourage them to share information with their entourage to fight this plague.
    We greatly appreciate you sharing with us this personal experience and we invite you to read our latest article about the scam topic: http://www.nyhabitat.com/blog/2011/02/04/how-to-spot-an-apartment-rental-scam/

  36. Manila Real Estate Says:

    Rental scams are rising, so it’s more important than ever to look into the person or company that you are dealing with to make sure they are legitimate.

  37. Manila Apartments Says:

    Research the appropriate price. If the rate is too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers aren’t interested in a long term client-buyer relationship and instead just wants to get a chunk of change up front.

  38. vender apartamentos Letonia Says:

    Thanks for the post,Scams are pretty much awful. They happen all the time, and not just on Craig’s List. A lot of people don’t like Craig’s List because of scams, but they happen anywhere, and not just in big cities like New York, either.

  39. Cau Suite Says:

    Wow, this post definitely generated a lot of responses and conversations. Thank you for the post as well as the numerous back-and-forths here as I found them very informative. I was not particularly wary of stuff like this before, but now that I am looking for a new place, I know how to be cautious.

  40. Apartment for rent in Las Piñas Says:

    Thanks for sharing these tips. For sure if people will just have enough knowledge on the things that they need to do whenever they are going to rent and avoid rental scam there will be no victims anymore. Enough knowledge and education for you will not be cheated and with this post it gives a big help to people.

  41. Tracy Smith Says:

    Thank you for the great information, i actually almost got done by a scam when looking for a place to rent in NY, the price seemed to be good to be true and it was. since then i have actually gone into real estate myself and im determined to help honest people find a home at an honest price.

  42. john Says:

    Hello!

    Im just looking for a place to stay in new york for my vacations, i found this apartment in housetrip.com is a really luxury apartment for a really low price I contacted the owner and she send me all the details, a copy of a contract and her drivers license. She also told me to transfer all the money via Money-Gram to her head office in another state on another name. Also i checked the address and it exists but i’m not really sure if I can trust this person! Is there anyway you guys can help me out? Thank you!

  43. New York Habitat Says:

    Thank you for your comment.

    New York Habitat doesn’t have any relationship with the company you are mentioning, and we are not familiar with the way they handle bookings.

    However, as a licensed broker we recommend that you contact them directly, to see with them if this owner is legitimate and most importantly not to send money before the situation has been clarified.

    Feel free to contact us for any questions you may have regarding apartment rentals scams or for an apartment search in New York!

  44. Kivlar Says:

    1st I have to ask u what is the going rate in ur area? If u dont know nows the time, call homes within ur area aprox. a 5 mile raiduos that r for lease and r comparable to ur home. Ask as if u were a potential renter, get as many as u can thru the newspaper, and cking for rental signs and calling. This is going to give u the best way to know the market in ur area. This is not a part of ur question, but I hope it helps, please do a good backround ck. on ur applicants, if u can drive by where they live now to see how well they maintain the property. Do a extensive rental history check, I know if I was to rent out my home I would want at least 5 yrs rental in one place, that is verifiable, all this can save u alot of hassles later, not to mention u do not want extensive damage done to ur home, it will cost u so much! Believe me when I tell u, u would not believe what can be done to a property in 30 days!!!! Hope I have helped, HAPPY NEW YEAR BEST OF LUCK

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