Rental scam — almost fell for it

I almost fell for a rental scam yesterday and I’m wondering how to protect myself going forward.

I have been looking for a room for rent. Not easy since availability is low here and prices are very high. I saw a listing on Craigslist for a room for rent in an area I like and the room for rent was on the low end of market rate. So I contacted them via phone and they responded immediately.

Warning sign #1 — They (a middle aged couple) claimed to be moving in to this condo December 1st. They didn’t live there yet.

Warning sign #2 — They were very eager to meet me. Usually I have to pursue the listing; most do not reply and those that do are cautious and hesitant. These people seemed like they were trying to sell me on the place already.

Warning sign #3 — They asked for only a small deposit, not the regular 1st + last + deposit.

Waning sign #4 — They asked me to meet them at their current apartment, not the place I was to rent.

This should have been enough warnings but it wasn’t. I sensed something however, so I did some online research and did find that they were who they said they were. Still was uneasy and I couldn’t figure out why.

They seemed like very nice people in person, but I was greeted by several more alarming red flags:

— I wouldn’t be able to see the place before moving in; they claimed the current tenant was moving out same day.

— They didn’t want a credit check or background check or proof of income. Just two references. They seemed to trust me immediately and invited me to move in already.

— They said they were renting from family so there was no lease I could view.

And most concerning, they had already drawn up a crude lease agreement that was only one page long. I told them that I was expecting a more formal agreement that would be notarized. Immediately they offered to call their friend that was a notary. They wanted me to sign the lease agreement and give them the deposit right there. I said I would contact them tomorrow.

After I discussed my concerns with my friend I realized that I just narrowly escaped getting scammed. It’s very disheartening. I’m supposed to look at another room today but now I’m scared that I won’t notice warning signs. I read the rental scam page but it didn’t cover this situation…so I’m wondering what other warning signs I should be looking for?

The content was posted by sdautist on 2021-11-10 17:51:21 via reddit

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  1. Biggest one of all: Not able to get into the property to view the interior. Next: Money before viewing.

  2. NutWrench says:

    Might also be a multiple renter scam. The scammer, who is not connected to the property in any way, collects a “deposit” from you. Maybe even gets you to sign a fake lease or rental agreement.
    Later, at the beginning of next month, you and several other people who have been scammed show up at the property, ready to move in and only then discover you’ve all been scammed.

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