…Or do, see if I care. Plus we can all laugh at you.
In today’s hustle and bustle world, scams are everywhere. Attractive singles in your area are just JONESING for your wallet. Every 3rd debit machine has a card reader on it, attached by some 17-year old hacker waiting in the back room on his laptop. Spyware knows what kind of weird porn you watch and is secretly judging you for it. Midgets, really? That’s not even politically correct, never mind sexy.
But most of these are minor inconveniences compared to the mother of all scams. Well, sort of. Yes, kids, I’m talking about rental scams. When pulled off successfully, not only are you out of a couple thousand bucks, but you’re also stuck renting a storage locker for your stuff while sleeping on mom’s couch. Which is a bummer, because you’re were probably trying to get the hell away from mom’s couch in the first place.
Here are the best rental scams and some easy ways you can beat the scammers at their own game. You’ll have to acquire your own ski mask and unmarked laptop on your own though.
I’m calling the first rental scam the granddaddy because it’s the best of them all. When pulled off properly, it can be really lucrative.
Here’s how it works. The existing tenant decides he’s leaving the place, so he has a few choices. He can tell the landlord, but then the landlord might keep his security deposit, mostly because it has been scientifically proven 96% of landlords are assholes. The other 4% are only big fat jerks.
So he decides to sublet it instead. He puts an ad on the Kijiji, gets a few responses, picks one, and life is gravy. But since he’s in a hot market, responses keep coming in. So he has a better idea. He lowers the price of the rent a few hundred dollars to really drum up demand. Soon, he’s got 10 people interested in the place.
So what does he do? He rents the place to 10 different people. And if he’s smart, he gets deposits and whatnot in cash. “Hey, can you pay me cash? That way I can just forward it to the landlord.”
How to avoid this: Do not deal with that tenant directly. Feel free to have him show you the place, and then insist on dealing with the landlord. If the existing tenant balks at this, it’s a pretty clear sign he hasn’t bothered to tell his landlord he’s leaving, which is generally a bad sign. And try to not give random guys you just met hundreds of dollars in cash.
The granddaddy (modified)
There’s two versions of the granddaddy, essentially the same rental scam in a different form.
Instead of admitting they’re renting the place, the tenant pretends to be the landlord. The same process happens, and soon enough the place is rented to ten different people. The tenant skips town with that sweet security deposit scratch while 10 people show up on moving day wanting to move in. Tears and punches ensue, not necessarily in that order.
How to avoid this: This one is more difficult to avoid, since there’s no reason why a smart tenant wouldn’t look exactly like the landlord. Besides the obvious tips of don’t give anyone money until you’ve signed a lease there isn’t really much you can do. And even then, it’s not hard to get a fake lease.
One thing you can do it pull title on the property to see who owns it, which is a relatively simple process (in Alberta, anyway. I’m not sure about other provinces). But then you need to find out the legal address of the building, and so on.
Another thing you can do is show up randomly one day and talk to some of the neighbors. “Hey, is your landlord a young guy with blond hair?” “No, he’s an old guy with grey hair.” This works better in an apartment than a house, obviously.
The effectiveness level of this scam is quite high when pulled off right. It’s a good thing most people are honest.
The cheap rent scam
The cheap rent scam is simple. An ad goes up on Kijiji or Craigslist or whatever that offers a place at a big discount to market rent. All you need to do is send the (most likely overseas) owner a deposit using Western Union or whatever.
Yes, this scam still works. You’d be surprised how many moron 18-year olds are out there.
How to avoid this: Uh, don’t be dumb? Just don’t give a deposit to a place you haven’t seen and you’ll be fine.
And that’s all I can think of. Anybody have any other rental scams they’ve heard of? Comment away, yo.