According to an article published by the Staten Island Advance today, there has been a recent scamming trend going on involving renters who find their listings online.
According to this photo found on SILIVE.COM, "an alleged real estate scammer is asking a potential renter to wire a security deposit to his secretary."
There are so many places on the internet where you can find local listings for houses and apartments available for sale/rent. On certain websites, such as Craigslist, natural instinct might tell you to be careful from the jump, checking all facts and sources before agreeing to send anyone any money. But, what if you were getting scammed by a hacker on a reliable real estate website? The Staten Island Advance gave us the scenario: You're on a reliable real estate website, such as Trulia, and you find an entire house for rent, $1,000 a month, all utilities included. The place is yours for the taking, but the landlord is out of the country. He'll mail you the keys, after you wire transfer him the first month's rent and security deposit. Although the house might be real, and also available on the market, the listing is fake.
Ways To Use Online Real Estate Sites Responsibly:
1. Any of the following things should be a RED FLAG to you: a) if the seller is unable to give you a showing of the apartment/house, b) if the seller is "out of the country" and needs an "immediate wire transfer," c) if the phone number provided connects you to an online account, such as a Google Voice Mailbox, or is not associated with an actual carrier (Ex: AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T- Mobile, etc.)
2. You should NEVER wire transfer money to someone you have never met. If someone is asking you for a wire transfer, contact law enforcement and ask if the listing, seller, and all provided information are real, and if it's safe to send a wire transfer.
The moral of the story: If it seems too good to be true, that's because it probably is.
For more information on how to avoid rental listing scams...visit this FAQ article provided by Trulia.com.
You can read the complete article written by the Staten Island Advance here.