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Apartment rental scam

Earlier this year, I was searching web sites for long term rentals in Italy. I was sending emails to several realtors on apartments that looked interesting. I wrote the email in Italian and English.
I received a few legit replies, but one smelled fishy. One email with a "German" sounding name sent and Email asking pertinent questions such as how many bedrooms, budget, reason for moving to Italy (work, study, etc). The next email I received had indoor pictures of a gorgeous apartment, and for the size, clearly a really good deal. So I responded with a few more questions- where was apartment located, picture of the building and street apartment was on (the pictures sent had all the curtains closed, which I thought was odd).

So here comes the scam. The guy emails (in Italian) he's recently moved his family from Verbania back to London and is looking for a responsible renter. (even though in my original email I stated I preferred English but could translate Italian). He says he uses Air BnB as the agent to protect both him and the renter. He was going to send a link to pay the deposit for the apartment to AirBnB, but then rent payments would be made to him. He would pay the commission to AirBnB. Made no sense.

So I googled AirBnB scams and here's what he I believe he was trying to do. Once I said I wanted the apartment, he would send a link to click on to send the deposit via a "fake" but real looking AirBnB site. At best, the deposit would disappear, worst, he would then would have access to my bank account. I think it was a "fake" apartment existed someplace, but not where I was looking.

To reiterate what someone else said, if it's too good to be true, it probably is. If someone sends you a link, PayPal, AirBnb, etc., be careful. It's easy for people to create fake websites and use a website that looks close, but not exact.

Posted by
273 posts

Good catch.
I saw an apartment rental online in London for a lower price in a good neighborhood, when they wanted a 500GBP "refundable" deposit for a 2 week stay; I asked when my British niece, who was applying for the police academy (true) could come by and see it, they took down the listing, disappeared, and never bothered me again. :)
A legit web site I found is for people with .edu email addresses, since I attend university online, I had one (it's for teachers/professors too).
It's a real challenge to find the legit listings from the bad ones.
Good luck!

Posted by
32229 posts

Oh dear, Karen. Good catch, and good sniff test. Does that mean that you and the woofer are back to square one finding a place? And with you half way across the US?

Sorry for your distress.