Commonalities of a Rental
1. Usually contains poor grammar and
2. Usually mentions God, cashiers check,
money orders, wire transfer, Western Union, doctor, reverend, Nigeria, or the UK.
3. Landlord wants you to wire money to
them. Typically to a bank not located in the same city as
the rental property.
4. Landlord's email typically comes from a free email
provider such as Yahoo, Hotmail, or Gmail.
5. References another person or agent.
Especially in the case of a wire transfer, the name on their
bank account will differ from the person posing as the
6. Tenant Scam - willing to send money
without viewing your property.
7. Landlord Scam - wants you to send
money without viewing inside of property.
8. Will not accept credit card payment.
9. Can not show you the inside of the
rental property before you send money.
10. Name in the real estate county
records does not match the name of the landlord claiming to
own the property.
11. Price is too good to be true.
12. Does not have a phone number that you
can call. In cases where the scammer does have a U.S. based
phone number, be sure to check the area code to be sure it
is located in or around the city of the rental property.
If you see a combination of the
commonalities listed above or are skeptical because of a
deal too good to be true, either find another landlord or
management company to rent from who can show you the inside
of the property or pay the landlord using an escrow account
such as with Escrow.com. Another alternative is to use
PayPal.com using your credit card. Never send money
via a wire transfer, Money Gram, cashier's check or through
Western Union unless you have rented from the landlord
before and are certain the transaction is not a scam. If it
turns out to be a scam, you can not get your money back.
Instead, use Escrow.com or PayPal.com using your credit
card. Credit cards offer fraud protection and will refund
your money in the case of a scam. If you have a PayPal
account and the landlord will not accept escrow, express
your concerns with the landlord and tell the landlord you
will make the first payment to them using PayPal.com.
Just be sure to make payment using your credit card when
Typical Rental Property "Landlord" Scam:
The ad and email reply seem honest and possible — the
owner/landlord has left town on a mission trip and is
looking to rent their home. When the
potential tenant asks to view the house, the owner says he
has the keys with him in a foreign country (usually Africa)
and asks that the deposit and rent be sent to him via
Western Union or wire transfer before he'll mail the keys.
Not that not all rental property scams involve a fake
mission trip. Many Nigerian based scammers simply pose as
local landlords. Some have even gone as far as getting a US
based phone number that you can call. Always ask to view the
inside of the property before you have paid anything.
If you are not located near the rental property, such as in
the case of a vacation rental, always pay with a credit
The scammers, generally based in Nigeria/West Africa, copy real ads
and real photos of actual rental properties or homes in
attractive neighborhoods and pretend to be local owners. They significantly lower the
prices and post them on other websites, replacing the owner's
contact information with their own.
Many times, the actual homeowners are unaware their
home is being used to commit fraud.
To avoid being ripped-off, always view the inside of the
rental home before paying anything. If the
owner/landlord/management company is not capable of showing
you the inside of the rental home, look elsewhere or pay
with a credit card.
In situations where you can not view the inside of the
property because you are not located in the city of the
rental, be sure to make payment using a credit card.
Never send money via wire, cashier's check, Money Gram or Western Union.
Only a credit card has fraud protection. If the
landlord can not accept a credit card, you can also use
PayPal.com to make payment using your credit card. If
the landlord will not accept PayPal, look elsewhere. Don't
risk the chance of being taken in a scam.
Typical Rental Property "Tenant" Scam:
Tenants can also be scammers. Landlords need to be on
the lookout for the following popular tenant scam. It
begins by the tenant finding a rental property on popular
classified ad websites. The scammer will usually
contact the landlord by email. These emails usually
have poor spelling and grammar and come from a free email
account such as Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail. These emails
usually come from scammers claiming to be doctors or
The landlord replies with information
about the property. The tenant usually says they are
out of the country and would like to rent the property,
sight unseen. They send a fake certified cashier's
check or money order. The cashiers check or money
order is for an amount much greater than the deposit and
first month's rent. The scammer says they made a
mistake and asks the landlord to send the overpayment back
to them. It usually takes several days for a bank to
recognize a cashiers check or money order as being fake.
The unsuspecting landlord thinks the
money is already in their bank account so they have no
problem wiring the excess money, usually $1,000 to $2,000.
The scammer receives the funds and the landlord receives a
call from their bank that the cashiers check or money order
was fake. The scam is now complete and the landlord
has just lost a large amount of money.
If you suspect a scam from any of the listings on RentalAds.com,
write down the listing ID# and tell us about it.