Room for Rent and other rental scams
#34862 by SLJ Sun Aug 08, 2010 8:47 am
I plan to visit London this fall for about 10 days so looked at various vacation rental agencies online (googled to find them). After some time I began to see a pattern. Many seemed to show the same places, often at different prices. That didn't seem so unusual until I looked on Craigslist and found the same places again at significantly lower rental rates. For example, one place near Russell Square cost 950 GBP per week (over 135 GBP per night) at one of the rental agencies. On Craigslist I found it listed by more than one poster at rates of 35 or 40 GBP per night. Same text and at least one or two of the same photos on the rental agency sites.

All of these places—both the agencies and the Craigslist posters—ask for money up front, either a refundable security deposit and/or part of the rent. I began to be suspicious, especially when one of the Craigslist posters for this apartment showed a different bedroom for the unit but sent the same living room, kitchen and bathroom photos that I had seen for it on the rental agency sites when I asked for additional pix. I asked about this but have not heard back yet.

Similarly I was in touch with the apparent owner of another suite through VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner). It ended up being rented over the course of the few days we corresponded back and forth but we were discussing a rate of 115 GBP per night. I later saw two Craigslist postings for the same unit—same text and same photos. These posting pre-dated my correspondence with the owner by a few days each but were at much lower rental rates—32 GBP and 35 GBP per night.

These are just two examples. There are more. That's part of what makes it suspicious. The Craigslist rental rates are too good to be true. I can’t figure out what’s going on here, especially with the Craigslist posts. Is it bait and switch, take the money and run, or what? I will probably stay away from the Craigslist offers but I am not comfortable with the agencies either if the same places are listed over and over and often for much less money.

Any idea what is going on here?
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#34880 by Samantha Sun Aug 08, 2010 12:39 pm
I'm glad you did some research and realized these were scams.

It is a take the money and run situation. He'll want payment (by Western Union or Moneygram) for a deposit, or to "send" the keys. There are other variations as well but all involve your sending money which you'll never see again.
#34921 by SLJ Mon Aug 09, 2010 9:49 am
I since contacted the woman who owns the apartment that was listed at 950 GBP on VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) and told her about the Craigslist postings. She subsequently found 12 cheap listings that used her photos and description!! There were no other suitable VRBO listings so at this woman's suggestion I have now tried Home Away. But all of the agencies require advance deposits. Hard to know if they are reputable. Any suggestions appreciated.
#35890 by jaybird (texas) Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:43 pm
I came "this" close to being scammed by a Craiglist criminal. I had answered an ad for a London apt that I wanted to rent for 9 days. After a few emails, I felt okay with it (in my total ignorance) and started negotiating the how/when/where's. He wanted me to send the money Western Union, which I have heard is a big red flag, so I told him we needed another plan. He told me he understood, that he had been the victim of fraud before himself, and it was horrible. However, he assured me this was really the only way to go, but I didn't need to send the money to him. I should send it (still using Western Union) in the name of my traveling companion, and then send him the reciept so he would be assured the money was sent. I almost accepted that, but then fortunately I saw something while Googling. It was in Wikipedia called Advanced Fee Fraud. It was almost word for word what he proposed. (look it up!) I sent a note back to him with info copied from that site and of course never heard back. I wish there was a really good way to get him busted. I am pretty sure that at least two of the other ads I answered on Craigslist were scams too. Red flags: too good to be true. Poor English in the emails, not the ads. Ads sounded alike. (both had the phrase "dogs okay woof" as well as a short list of other okay things.) Names of emailers were "famous" names: Rick Warren, Ravi Shankar. Hmmm... Thank the Lord I saw that wiki thing, or I would be wandering the streets of London with my son that I was giving this vacation treat to!
#35893 by Michelle Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:57 pm
Welcome to scamwarners.com JB

Western Union and MoneyGram transactions are intended only for transactions between yourself and people you know and trust. The transaction details should never be disclosed to a third party.

Despite what a scammer might tell you, Western Union and MoneyGram Transfers can be picked up virtually anywhere in the world and with the minimum of identification. They are almost impossible to trace once the money has been collected.


Please post a copy of the e-mail that you have received from your Scammer - one that contains the Western Union request would be great. This will help anyone searching for the "landlord's' details.

Please ensure it contains the scammer's e-mail address, but remove your own before submitting.

#53132 by sakdjnfasjg Wed May 11, 2011 10:18 am
I would encourage people to:
-ask for the seller's phone number and address to arrange a viewing of the property ahead of renting, even if you have no way of actually coming to a viewing :-)
-research the e-mail address and website of the seller.

I bet that the scammer will suddenly stop replying, or will say that the property is no longer available!

Below are two recent examples from craigslist (I've edited out some details with XXX).

--------------------------

[email protected]

Thanks for your interest in our apartment.

Our apartment is available for your requested dates

Daily rent: £40.00
Refundable Security Deposit: £150.00

This will include a complimentary breakfast 'welcome pack' that will
contain the following items: Croissants - Coffee - Tea - Milk - Sugar -
Bread - Butter - Cheese - Breakfast Cereals - Orange Juice.

The rent is quoted in Pounds Sterling (there is no tax on privately owned
homes) The amount is inclusive all bills, we supply all linens, internet,
gas and electricity.


To book and secure the apartment 35% of the rent rate and the £150.00
Refundable Security deposit,has to be advanced by bank transfer/deposit,
the balance by 65% cash or travelers cheque at arrival.

We also give away 10% Discount on every full payment deposit during
reservation.

To proceed with the booking of the apartment, request for our apartment
booking form and bank details.

Regards,

Alek Dobren.
02071028468

--------------------------

WHOIS

Code: Select all     Domain name:
         [b]standardproperties.co.uk[/b]
 
     Registrant:
         Robin Kendall
 
     Registrant type:
         UK Individual
 
     Registrant's address:
         The registrant is a non-trading individual who has opted to have their
         address omitted from the WHOIS service.
 
     Registrar:
         Easily Limited t/a easily.co.uk [Tag = WEBCONSULTANCY]
         URL: http://www.easily.co.uk
 
     Relevant dates:
         Registered on: 30-Mar-2011
         Renewal date:  30-Mar-2013
         Last updated:  30-Mar-2011

     Registration status:
         Registered until renewal date.
 
     Name servers:
         dns0.easily.co.uk         212.53.77.27
         dns1.easily.co.uk         212.53.64.31


--------------------------

[email protected]

Hi XXX,

This apartment is available on your selected date (XXX)
which is XXXnights, the rate is £35 per night and the total is £XXX.
The amount is inclusive all bills, we supply all linens.
Also we take 40% and a refundable £200 security deposit to confirm your
booking and you pay the balance on your arrival day.
The amount to be paid is 40% which is; £XXX + £200.00 security deposit
Total: £XXX GBP
The £200.00 security deposit is refundable on your departure date.
The balance 60% (£XXX) to be paid on or before arrival as you deem fit.
We accept; wire/bank transfer. Other means you wish to make the payment
can be discussed.

Regards,
Michael Webb

--------------------------

WHOIS

Code: Select allDomain name:
         [b]hollets.co.uk[/b]
 
     Registrant:
         Lonna E Lucas
 
     Registrant type:
         UK Individual
 
     Registrant's address:
         The registrant is a non-trading individual who has opted to have their
         address omitted from the WHOIS service.
 
     Registrar:
         Easily Limited t/a easily.co.uk [Tag = WEBCONSULTANCY]
         URL: http://www.easily.co.uk
 
     Relevant dates:
         Registered on: 07-Apr-2011
         Renewal date:  07-Apr-2013
         Last updated:  07-Apr-2011

     Registration status:
         Registration request being processed.
 
     Name servers:
         dns0.easily.co.uk         212.53.77.27
         dns1.easily.co.uk         212.53.64.31
#59601 by scamzapper Thu Jul 21, 2011 2:51 pm
Yes, this is definitely a scam.

I got a reply to an inquiry from a "Michael Webb" at Lonvac Properties (e-mail address "[email protected]") and asking for a 150 pound deposit.

Here is the craigslist link: http://london.craigslist.co.uk/vac/2472221839.html

Here are some others that I suspect are also bogus:

£35 / 1br - Located at Draycott Ave, in the heart of Old Chelsea (London SW3)
http://london.craigslist.co.uk/vac/2462334684.html

£35 / 1br - Great location to relax and access the city (London)
http://london.craigslist.co.uk/vac/2472340093.html

Moral of the story (and this will come as no surprise to many): although there are some very good deals on craigslist there are more scammers and cons. If something looks too good to be true it probably isn't.

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