Roommate Scams: Don’t Get Conned Out Of a Place to Live

So here’s a scenario. You’re looking for a room to rent. You see an ad for a room that sounds perfect. The “landlord” of the apartment asks you to send a deposit and the first months’ rent straight away. You haven’t seen the room but it sounds great − and you really need to find somewhere. The so-called ‘landlord’ disappears with your money. And you still have nowhere to live. This time of scam, also known as a renter’s scam, not only works with fake landlords, but fake roomates as well.

Roomate scams are a bit different. The internet has made it very easy to advertise and look for an apartment, but it’s important to be wary because apartment-finding websites are fertile ground for scammers. There’s always a chance that the ad you end up responding to was made by a scammer. Sometimes though it’s the other way around. You place an ad to rent out your apartment and a scammer ends up responding. They’ll sound really interested in moving in. But, for some reason, they can’t come round for a viewing. They then will send you money for rent and a bond – via check or bank transfer. You’ll end up getting more than what you asked for. After that the scammer asks for a partial refund and tell you to forward the money to another party. After you’ve refunded the money, you’ll find out that the original payment they gave you is invalid and that the check has bounced or the transaction has been reversed. It’s a simple yet tricky scam and we see it all the time.

How to protect yourself from rent scammers:

  • Always be wary of people wanting to rent a room without seeing it first. Even if they claim to be overseas. Nobody rents a room without seeing it first.
  • Never send any money to someone before you’ve seen the room. You need to make sure your money is going into safe hands.
  • Be careful who you share your personal information with. Scammers can and will use your personal information to commit fraud under your name.
  • Never send personal, credit card or online account details via email.
  • Report any attempted fraud or suspicious emails to the aparment-seeking website the scammer is using. Many websites have a link for reporting this.
  • If you’ve received money from a suspicious source contact your bank immediately.

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