We Want To Provide You With Information on several rental-related scams that are on-going. Below are a couple of examples & scenarios we extracted from various sources. Please be extremely careful when you are out there looking for a rental. There are websites that charge you to access information on available rentals; thinking you do not need to pay! Please think before departing with your hard earned money!
Many of the ongoing scams are related to fraudulent rental ads on craigslist. We do not advertise our properties on craigslist. Before you provide any personal information or funds to a "property owner" or "property management company" please verify they are actually who they represent themselves to be! If the deal sounds too good to be true - guess what - it's probably not true!
For Buyers and Prospective Tenants:
A distant seller or owner asks for payment via Western Union or MoneyGram. After payment is sent using one of these services, the distant owner promises to send item or keys via Fed Ex, DHL or other delivery service however the items or keys never arrive.
The item or flat/apartment may seem to be "too good to be true"; the price is usually well below market value.
Never send payment via Western Union, MoneyGram or similar service to someone you do not know personally! (Exception: We are told that in Argentina, banking fees are so prohibitively expensive that some legitimate businesses (e.g. language schools) request payment via Western Union.)
Do not use bank transfer to send money to a city other than your home or destination. For example, if you are from New York, traveling to Madrid, do not sent money to someone in Dublin, Ireland! If there is a problem, local authorities at home or at your destination will not be able to help you.
Please find below examples of Western Union scam messages sent to expatriates.com users.
For Sellers and Property Owners:
A distant buyer or prospective tenant sends a money order or cashier's checks that exceeds the actual price or rent.
The distant buyer or tenant requests that you forward the excess amount to a third party via Western Union, or MoneyGram. After initially accepting the check, your bank informs you several days later that the cashier's check is fake after you have wired funds to the third party.
Advance Fee Fraud
The perpetrators of Advance Fee Fraud (AFF), known internationally as "4-1-9" fraud after the section of the Nigerian penal code which addresses fraud schemes, are often very creative and innovative.
Claiming to be government officials, business people or the surviving spouses of former government leaders, con artists offer to transfer millions of dollars into your bank account in exchange for a small fee. If you respond to the initial offer, you may receive "official looking" documents. Typically, you are then asked to provide blank letterhead and your bank account numbers, as well as some money to cover transaction and transfer costs and attorney's fees.
A common misconception is that the victim's bank account is requested so the culprit can plunder it -- this is not the primary reason for the account request -- merely a signal they have hooked another victim.
For more information please read this advisory from the United States Federal Trade Commission.
If you receive such a message, please do the following:
- do not reply to the message!
- forward the message to their email provider at their "abuse" address (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com etc.). Ask their email provider to shut down the account. The service provider may ask you to provide additional information such as "message headers."
- to our knowledge, authorities only take complaints from actual victims. Therefore, follow the previous step to have the scammer's email account shutdown.
Please find below examples of 4-1-9 Advanced Fee Fraud scam messages sent to expatriates.com users.
If you are a victim of a scam:
If you are a victim of a scam, please do the following:
- send us all email correspondence between you and the perpetrator.
- file a police report in city where you normally reside and where you believe the perpetrator resides.
- send us the police report case numbers. We cooperate with law enforcement agencies in such matters.
- file a complaint with the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC). (The IFCC is normally for U.S. citizens.)