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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
255 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 SabatticalHomes.com 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!
-Alison

Posted by
23402 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.