These scams take advantage of trusting renters with a "too good to be true" rent price. They often list a vacancy ad on reputable rental listing sites and ask for a security deposit and first month’s rent in exchange for keys. Once the scammer secures the money, they disappear, and the tenant is left with no place to live.
Scammers create rental ads with real or fake information about homes or apartments that have been previously listed for rent or sale. The “owner” or “landlord” will often email the prospective renter claiming they are out of town for a job or overseas for missionary work and avoid responding to detailed questions about the property. Despite attempts to see the property, the scammer will explain that the home must rent without being seen due to their current long-distance living situation.
Rental scammers will try to include a lot of unnecessary detail to appear legitimate to prospects. They will mention lawyers or agents and added security measures, like address verification, to build trust and authority with their victim. At the same time, they remain vague and distant about property specifics or reasons for not accepting alternative payment forms. They might request wire transfers through companies like Western Union or MoneyGram, which are untraceable and non-refundable. This is a huge warning sign.