09 July 2011 ~ 0 Comments

Sizzling Summertime Scams

On my recent vacation to Manhattan, New York, I was having dinner with visiting friends (and their relatives) who had shared an unfortunate scam that had just happened to them.

They were hoping to land an affordable apartment for their upcoming one week stay in NYC and turned to a popular website that posted places for rent. After viewing some great photos online they proceeded to contact via email the owner of the unit and excitedly expressed their interest in renting out the space. The quickly received a response back that happily the place was available for the week they were looking for and that…

okay we all know what happens from here. Turns out the address existed (when googled) but the real address was nothing like the pictures or even available to be rented out.

Well this story got me thinking of a similar sort of scam I came across about two years ago (same sharing website involved) in Toronto that has been popping up in many U.S. cities hit hard by the housing recession.

A client of mine desperately called me explaining that he was in a bind and needed some advice. He owns a rental property and his current tenant had just moved out of the house.

As it turns out (after the police were contacted) was that he had given an extra set of keys to a friend and his friend new he would be vacating the house mid-month in the last month of his tenancy.  The criminally minded so called “friend” placed an ad on the same popular website as above, complete with pictures of the house and an amazing rental price to boot.

Interest in the home was fast and furious as potential tenants swarmed on the house to view the space over a two day period. The house gets rented out to eight different tenants and the “friend” collects last months rent deposits in cash in the amount of $1,000 each (as well as a few first month rent deposits) from unsuspecting tenants who witnessed first hand the frenzy of activity. I’m sure this activity compelled many to part with their better judgement and hand over cash when otherwise they wouldn’t have.

My advice was to call the police and then a lawyer…and not necessarily in that order.

This same sort of scam is happening throughout cities in the states where many homes sit vacant. I even heard from an agent friend in the U.S. that a thief had broken in to one of his vacant homes, changed the back door lock, and showed the house that way!

It still surprises me that many people continue to get duped by these scams but I guess when the deal seems to be to0 good to pass up, their common sense goes hiding.

Leave a Reply