Rental fraud is pervasive
The place seems like a dream come true: the right space, the right location, the right price. But is it really for rent? Or will the renter arrive to find their money gone with nowhere to stay?
An in-depth investigative study by Better Business Bureau (BBB) finds that fraud is widespread in the online rental home and vacation rental market, with 43% of online shoppers encountering completely fake listings and more than 5 million consumers losing money to such scams.
The investigative study – Is That Rental Listing Real? A BBB Study of Rental Scams Involving Apartments, Houses and Vacation Properties – notes that 85% of consumers encountering fake rental listings do not fall for them. However, these figures suggest that the volume of rental scams lurking on the internet is staggering.
According to the study, rental scams can take several forms, but perhaps most commonly, fraudsters simply copy the photo and description of a property, post it online with their own contact information and try to get a deposit and first month’s rent from the victim. The fraudster may communicate only by email or text message and may claim to be out of the country and unavailable to show the property. Once the victim sends money, the fraudster disappears.
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