#1 12-27-2015 12:41 AM

Samaire13
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Watch out for apartment rental scams

Hello TBs

Hope it's ok to post this here, otherwise feel free to delete it.

Just wanted to post a quick warning as I was stupid enough to fall for an apartment rental scam. This person posts ads on Craigslist and likely other websites, under the name "David Clark" or "David Brian Clark" and I presume other aliases as well, advertising apartments all over the US. The apartment buildings indeed exist, but the units he "rents out" do not. If you are not sure, try to google the apartment building and contact them directly to inquire whether the respective unit actually exists.

The scam is not immediately obvious, i.e. no Nigerian prince or whatever, communication is extensive and in perfect English, and the person does set up a rental agreement that looks professional enough as well as provides reviews from supposed previous tenants. The money is being asked for upfront. That technically is not really unusual either, imo, at least I've paid plenty of hotels and apartment in advance, especially during high season. I did become suspicious because it was by money order, but ignored it and ended up without a place to stay after flying from one continent to another, not to mention quite a bit of lost $$ that will never be recovered.

This is just an FYI so this doesn't happen to anyone else. I'm gonna bury my head in the sand now for being an idiot and not trusting my gut wink

Cheers smile

Last edited by Samaire13 (12-27-2015 12:43 AM)

 

#2 12-27-2015 3:15 AM

trippin_jen
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Re: Watch out for apartment rental scams

How about giving details of this 'scammer'?

 

#3 12-27-2015 7:24 AM

guybooth
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Re: Watch out for apartment rental scams

good warning, I guess it’s safest to just stick with verified places via airbnb unless someone has personally recommended somewhere.

 

#4 12-27-2015 7:46 AM

kayguarnay
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Re: Watch out for apartment rental scams

Thank you for sharing!  I am moving cities and renting an apartment at a distance is not such an outlandish proposition. Some more details would be helpful.  Which cities, other than Craigslist is he using other sites?

 

#5 12-27-2015 12:52 PM

Samaire13
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Re: Watch out for apartment rental scams

That was definitely a lesson - don't trust anything other than maybe the most official websites. This is the ONE time I booked something not through a hotel or booking site directly and well, I certainly will never do that again.

Anyway, this specific instance was in Hawaii, but I've found reports that the same scam happened to others in California, NYC and apparently also Kansas, Vermont etc. Of course I don't know if it is indeed always the same person, but from the writing in the ad reports I found it could well be. As said, at least in my case, there was no obvious elaborate back story and the rental price wasn't suspiciously low, so while I did have a funny feeling, I didn't think much of it first. I had shown the ad to four people, all quite travel experienced, and all of them told me I was just being paranoid and that it looked legit - well not so much wink They told me at the building that it happens quite regularly, so it seems to be an ongoing scam and they've been unable to catch the guy. He's probably not in the US anyway. I've filed reports with the police and IC3 (FBI), though if only in the hope that others will not fall for the same thing as my money's of course gone for good.

The e-mail address that was used with me is davidcchomes@hotmail.com, phone 858 224 3861 In other instances I found through Google, this phone number was used 516 800 8498

Apparently, other aliases are being used such as David Edward, David Mark, Patrick Lee though again, it might be different people. So far, all I found are reports from Craiglists, but if you come across any of these names anywhere else, be careful. Also, in the "rental agreement", there is mention of two accountants, Leticia Vasquez Lopez in San Antonio TX as well as Tracy Anderson in Lafayette LA. I filed fraud reports for those two as well (yes, I'm going all out wink). If they actually exist under these names, cause who knows. So if you read any of these names - watch out.

I also found some information online (though I obviously can't attest that) that the same person or people use scams for things other than apartment rental, so be careful even if you want to buy or sell something.

Best way if you are unsure is to contact the apartment building where the unit is supposedly at and ask them whether a) the unit exists and b) who the owner is.

Last edited by Samaire13 (12-27-2015 12:57 PM)

 

#6 1-8-2016 2:19 AM

stefmuts
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Re: Watch out for apartment rental scams

Samaire13 wrote:

Hello TBs
This is just an FYI so this doesn't happen to anyone else. I'm gonna bury my head in the sand now for being an idiot and not trusting my gut wink
Cheers smile

Thanks for sharing and there is no need to feel ashamed about it, seems it's a well organized scam

 

#7 1-8-2016 5:48 AM

kvom
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Re: Watch out for apartment rental scams

Anything offered for sale or rent requesting a money order is likely a scam these days.

 

#8 2-25-2016 1:21 AM

guptapriyagupta10
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Re: Watch out for apartment rental scams

Yeah I agree with Kvom

 

#9 2-25-2016 7:37 AM

Oldpro
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Re: Watch out for apartment rental scams

guybooth wrote:

good warning, I guess it’s safest to just stick with verified places via airbnb unless someone has personally recommended somewhere.

Such scams are not confined to Craigslist and Airbnb is just as likely to have them.  You will find plenty of examples here:  https://www.google.ca/search?q=airbnb+f … e=&oe=

When you use any third party site to book anything, you run the risk of a scam or the 'product' simply not being as advertised.   There are very few people computer savvy enough to know if they are being 'redirected' to a fake site for example and Airbnb is full of fake pictures of apartments that bear no resemblance to what exists in reality.

The internet may have made a lot of things easier for the traveller but it has also made it a lot easier for the crook as well. 

Any time you pay in advance for something, you run the risk of not getting what you paid for.  Book a room with Hilton and you don't pay until you LEAVE the hotel.  I never book anything with any third party site and would advise that if you do, do not book with a site that requires you to pay in advance in any form.  It is far easier to have them try to collect from you if things don't work out satisfactorily than it is for you to try and get your money back.

Otherwise, the risk is all on you.

 

#10 2-25-2016 12:10 PM

slayerspike
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Re: Watch out for apartment rental scams

Theres alot of scams out there. When I was living in London I was renting a room in a flat where 4 other people were. We rented from an agent. We knew something was up because the agent was meant to pay the internet as it was included in the rent but every 3-4 months the internet would get discounted and reconnected under a different name.

The kicker was when the owner of the flat turned up on the door step. I had been in the flat 6 months at this point. The landlord was shocked to see 5 of us living there as they thought they were renting it out to two people.

Turns out the agency wasn't real. They were sub letting it out to us. Pocketing a large amount of cash and then payed the owner less than what was agreed, saying there was a couple in the flat and they couldn't make full rent payments for what ever reason.

As soon as this came about the agency went underground.
I'm not sure what ever came about it, but if the owner of the property was gullible enough to believe this for other a year then I doubt much happened. I'd hazard a guess and say similar is probably still happening in other flats.

As for renting somewhere you have never physically seen, you shouldn't. The scam referenced originally is not new, Craigs list and gumtree are the worst offenders for it and it happened in Europe as well as America.

Never give the landlord or agent money without seeing the place and signing a contract.

 

#11 2-25-2016 9:09 PM

AussieMel82
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Re: Watch out for apartment rental scams

Airbnb isn't always that safe either. There was a woman who was sexually assulted by her host from airbnb somewhere in Europe. Also, here in Australia, a family booked a two weeks accommodation on the Gold Coast in a house. One of the rooms they were told they couldn't use which had all this light coming out from under the door and then halfway through their stay, the cops bust in and they were grilled for ages....turns out the owners had a marijuana crop growing in the house!

guybooth wrote:

good warning, I guess it’s safest to just stick with verified places via airbnb unless someone has personally recommended somewhere.

 

#12 2-25-2016 9:23 PM

jethanad
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Re: Watch out for apartment rental scams

sad.  Jjust a note of precaution - when paying in advance, I try to pay only for the first night so that I have a place upon arrival. I pay by credit card if possible. Also, if I have a referrral from a person known to me, I feel better. I guess none of these apply when there is real and acute shortage of space.

 

#13 2-26-2016 5:45 PM

almond72
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Re: Watch out for apartment rental scams

AussieMel82 wrote:

Airbnb isn't always that safe either. There was a woman who was sexually assulted by her host from airbnb somewhere in Europe. Also, here in Australia, a family booked a two weeks accommodation on the Gold Coast in a house. One of the rooms they were told they couldn't use which had all this light coming out from under the door and then halfway through their stay, the cops bust in and they were grilled for ages....turns out the owners had a marijuana crop growing in the house!

guybooth wrote:

good warning, I guess it’s safest to just stick with verified places via airbnb unless someone has personally recommended somewhere.

big_smile big_smile big_smile big_smile big_smile
Light coming out from under the door ??? That sounds like the horror movie Poltergeist.

 

#14 2-26-2016 9:33 PM

pammy_robertson
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Re: Watch out for apartment rental scams

I saw similar ads back in the uk on Gumtree, incredibly cheap flat but looked very luxurious. when I read you pay upfront before seeing the place and the payment was by money transfer I reported the post. This was for a long term lease, like 6-12months, so they were asking for a 1 month deposit. I really hope no one fell for it.

 
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