If you are a Landlord or a Tenant, most likely you must have read or heard about the Rental Scam to defraud the tenants. If you check on the internet, you would come across the pages of similar cases.
However, we are going to see how fraudsters scam the landlords in this article.
If you are a landlord and using Craigslist or Kijiji to look for the prospective tenants, you must have received the email where the prospective tenant asking if the place still available. Most of the times the landlord would not pay attention, because of the following warning on the websites.
So How does this Rental scam trap a landlord?
Here is how it happens.
Once you publish the advertisement, you’d receive an email or text. The prospect(the fraudster) would offer to take your rental apartment without seeing it. The prospect would say he or she is out of the country arriving in your town soon relocating because of the job change or similar reason. In such case, apparently, you would not feel odd that person does not want to see the apartment or meet you in person.
This is such a smart ploy. Because the person is from a different country, the whole process of tenant screening flies out of the window, in your mind! You may even think the prospect does not have time to check out the apartment as it would take some days, would also incur a lot of additional costs because he or she is far away!
The next thing in this Modus Operandi is an offer to send you the cashier or certified cheque, the amount of which would far exceed the total amount you are supposed to be paid( usually first and last month rent). Here the reason would be that the extra cash needed to pay for the car courier company who is bringing over the car from overseas. Once you agree, you’d receive the cheque by a registered post or courier.
This cashier cheque would look like a valid check. But that’s a fake check! You would deposit this with your bank, which would take about 5-7 days to clear. In the meanwhile, immediately after receiving the intimation that you have received the cheque, the fraudster would communicate with you and ask for the difference between the total amount and the amount that is due to you to pay to the car courier company. This amount would be asked to send by money transfer companies like the Western Union.
If you have a good credential with your bank, your bank would allow you an immediate withdrawal. And if you are an unsuspecting landlord, you would send the difference by Western Union, right? Why not? After a few days, your bank would call you and say the deposited cheque has bounced, holding you responsible for the money. This is how you could fall prey to the rental scam.
The experienced landlord would not fall to this traf. You know why?
Because he or she would have some experience with a bad tenant in the past. That experience would not allow the landlord to have a tenant without any kind of screening process. Even if there is no personal experience, after being a landlord for sometimes, you come to realize the importance of the tenant screening process. As soon as he or she realizes that there is no way you can check the background or cross-check other information, the application would be trashed.
Here are the 3 warning signs in the above rental scam episode.
- Why is the tenant willing to rent an apartment without having a look at it? That really seems crazy.
- When someone is entering into tenancy without meeting a landlord, that should ring a bell in your ear.
- The prospect(the fraudster) does not know you, haven’t met with you personally. How could someone possibly know you are a trustworthy person and will pay the money back immediately? This is the answer. The fraudster can take that chance with you because he has nothing to lose!
From the very beginning, the proposition of this offer from prospective tenant looks fishy. Is it not?
Haven’t we known to be cautious when it looks too good to be true?
What lesson can we derive from this rental scam?
Sometimes, the circumstances push you to ignore the obvious logic. The circumstances such as 2 recent rejection of the tenant applications because of their bad credential and so your property is unoccupied since last 2 month. Such things can put you in lots of stress because of the loss of rental income. So Obviously you want to have the tenant asap. But you have to be mindful not to make the wrong decision.
Don’t ever skip the tenant screening process!
Again, the tenant screening process is a must thing to do for the landlord.
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