Rental Ad Scams and Spam

Rental Ad ScamSometimes when you place an ad on Craigslist or Kijiji for a rental property you never know what kind of responses you’ll get. Sometimes you get a simple one line response from a prospective tenant saying:

“When can I see it?”

Other times you’ll get someone’s life story. I received a lovely email from a couple in Saskatchewan that were going to be retiring to the area of my property. They told me about their nephew that would be coming to view the place and how they are looking forward to the change in climate and being near many of their family members who’d also left Saskatchewan for the beauty of BC. And of course, there are the emails that make your scam bells ring.

The first time I received an email like the one I am about to share, I actually responded to it. It didn’t mention anything specific about my property so I was a little suspicious it was a rental ad scam. The element of a foreign visitor made it sound a bit off, yet you could appreciate the challenge of trying to find a place to live from another country. So even though I was pretty sure it was a scam I wasn’t 100% positive. So, I said:

“We will require you to complete a rental application. I can forward one to you if you’d like. We also will require you to provide some references in Canada. If you do not know anybody here then you could provide us with some proof that you’ll be employed or going to school once you arrive in Canada.”

Of course, I never received a response. And since then, I’ve received a similar email for different property ads I’ve placed. Whether it was a furnished 3 bedroom in Burnaby or a single family home in Kelowna it didn’t seem to matter. And then my brother received this email for his basement in Victoria:

My name is David Timi from United Kingdom. I am
interested in your room for rent and i am willing to have it
for my 23yrs Son who just got through with his college in Uk
and just gained admission in Canada..

I am interested in making the bookings of your room for the
duration of a year though the dates is not yet fixed for him
but i will keep you informed as soon as the dates is
confirmed but i am planning to make him come over as soon as
you have the room available.

I will be making advanced payments by check for the first
month starting from the time you have it available so as to
get it booked then i will pay the rest monthly..I am really
okay with the details of your apartment  i got from the web
site and its really my taste and i am sure my Son will also
like it. Really just to let you know that as for the payment
i will be paying with a Certified cheque.  As for the price
i will want to let you know that am okay with the price  so
kindly get back to me if you are willing to let it out  to
me so that the payment can be arranged and sent.

If you are okay with me, then you can mail me back and let
us conclude on everything today.

Regards
Mr David Timi

My brother sent this on to us because he was pretty sure it was a scam, but like me, he wasn’t sure. I knew for certain it was a scam now … unless David Timi is looking to live in three cities at the same time!!

If you suspect it’s a scam it’s better not to reply at all. But, if the email sounds fishy but possible, you can always ask them to complete a rental application and let them know you’re going to check their credit and their references. You should be doing this for every single rental anyway! Telling someone that you require a rental application to be completed and that you check credit and references often scares away bad tenants as well as the scam artists!

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9 Comments

Filed under investing, Property Management, real estate

9 responses to “Rental Ad Scams and Spam

  1. Yes, I once had a similar experience a few years ago. Someone interested in a very nice 3 bedroom home in Dallas. All of my communications with this polite gentlemen were by e-mail. They wanted to rent for a year with a 6 month advance payment from the company transferring them into town from the U.K. The cheque however, was also written to cover the furnishings for the house, so I would need to cash the check and return the $17,000 overage to him. I required an application, which they actually returned to me with said $23,000 certified check. Nothing on the application was verifiable and because of that I was highly suspect. I risked losing this potential rental by calling and turned in the check and the application to the FBI. They investigated and later informed me it WAS a forged certified cheque. Something like this would have taken weeks for the bank to catch, long enough time for them to have cashed any return cheque someone unsuspectingly could have given them. These scams ARE out there and some are quite sophisticated! My advice, as a rule, Never, ever, agree to take a payment greater than what is owed and give cash back. Great blog to bring this to light for others to learn from.

  2. WOW @Terry Barron! Good story!! And very good advice too. In the end if it sounds too good to be true it probably is!! Thank you for sharing your story!

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  4. I got similar scams when I went to sell 2 different properties at 2 different times. One was from South America somewhere and the other from the UK. I got so far with both to even talk to them on the phone, but I thought they sounded scammy. Not to typecast anybody, I am sure that there are legitimate buyers who have poor English grammar skills, but that seems to be a tip-off. It would seem that if you are educated and well off enough to be making international arrangements, your command of English grammar should be pretty good.

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  6. Cassandra

    There is a Rev Gabriel Milenieo …saw his ad on rentspot on line…inquired..and the emails a came, and came…of course then there was the ‘send money through Western Union…and I will forward the key…oh, yeah…I bet he would have…Beware..

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  8. Nicola Mitchell

    I have received similar e-mails from a David Timi in regards to the truck I am selling. He was willing to send a certified cheque for $10,500 when we are only asking $6500, he wanted us to send the rest, once the cheque had been cashed, by Western Union to cover his Private Courier. I was a bit leery. Thanks for the advice in this page.

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