Scam artists may take advantage of people who, because of exhausting and painful apartment search, may have become too emotional and vulnerable and are eager to give their money without much questioning. Feeling excited and enthusiastic about finding a new home can make you more trusting. Or, for instance, if you are running out of time searching for a new place to dwell, you are also a potential prey of apartment scammers.
Since I’ve been looking for an apartment for a while, I came across several instances of scams. Fortunately, I was smart enough not to send my money or give my bank account details to somebody I don’t know. In order to avoid being tricked and losing money, we must be aware of typical scam schemes.
What’s a Rental Scam?
Rental scams are a variation on a theme. The scammer tries to get money from a prospective tenant for an apartment that the scammer is in no legal position to rent.
The apartment might be real (in which case, the scammer doesn’t have the authority to lease it) or fictitious. The scammer could be a real landlord or, more likely, an impostor.
Avoid common “Red Flags”
Red Flag 1
They come up with a long story about how they aren’t in Germany now and ask you to wire money to Great Britain (in most cases) in order to get the key and have a look at the apartment.
The moment you’re asked to send money overseas over MoneyGram or Western Union you know you are a potential prey to a scammer. Once you send the money, it’s gone. Western Union and MoneyGram themselves warn their customers to NEVER WIRE MONEY TO PEOPLE YOU DON’T KNOW. These services are fine as long as you send your money to someone you know well, but you are putting yourself at risk if you need to transfer some cash to a person you don’t know. If you think you’ve become a victim of fraud, contact your local MoneyGram or Western Union branch as soon as possible!!!
Red Flag 2
The offer seems too good to be true. The price is much lower than it should be. As soon as you see some pretty pictures and low prices, you are tempted to get this apartment. But be careful! Scammers know their job and will do whatever they can to lure you in and make you give your money!
Red Flag 3
The photos don’t match the description. For example, the ad says the bathroom has a shower, but the photo shows a tub. Sometimes you might think that the person who posted an ad might just have made a mistake or whatever. But in fact that’s another scammer, a rather sloppy one though.
Red Flag 4
You are asked to give your bank account information.
Actually, I almost did that once. Luckily, my friend wasn’t that trusting and persuaded me not to do that. Never give your bank account details to people you don’t know because they can then easily withdraw money from your account!!!
What If You Get Scammed?
If you fall the victim of an apartment scam, there’s not much you can do to get your money back. But luckily, there are ways to avoid being conned so be very careful and never let emotions take over control. Always double-check before giving your money to anybody however tempting the offer might be!