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Authorities investigating several online apartment scams in Boston

The Suffolk County District Attorney's office and Boston Police report they are looking at "several incidents" involving people who made payments for apartments advertised online that were not, in fact, available for lease.

After making payments for apartments advertised on sites such as Craigslist:

The victims would later arrive at the residence prepared to move in, only to find the property already occupied and the rightful owner unaware of any lease agreement.

DA Dan Conley and Police Commissioner William Evans urged people to not transfer money to just anybody with a Craigslist ad. Instead:

Consider working with a licensed real estate professional to avoid phony apartment listings; Massachusetts licensure can be checked here.

Meet in-person with a prospective landlord to view the apartment yourself.

Don’t send payments unless you have independently confirmed that the recipient is the true owner of the property.

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Comments

And they are just catching onto this?

It's been a while since I apartment hunted, but even 8 years ago when I was looking, this was a big thing.

My favorite are the ads who say they have a 800/mo 1 bedroom located at 800 Boylston Street. Ya right.

It's pretty safe these days to state that, if someone wants you to pay for it via a wire transfer, it's 99% a scam.

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With two parking spots! What a deal!!!

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The $3,500 i just wired to Nigeria was a scam!

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That was a tax on your winnings/earnings/commission.

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"Hello,

I'm happy to inform you that the place is still available for rent. I've Congenital deafness and I work with a Resource Center on Deafness which provides programs and services to support deaf and hard of hearing students, their parents, and their school districts.. I was presently transferred to Arlington, TEXAS .. I have no choice than to relocate and this is the reason why I want to rent out the units to someone who is going to take care of the place as if they own it.

The rent includes all utilities and close to all amenities. Initially had the intention of selling the property but my family advised me not to sell it, we are not after the money, we just want some one that will take proper care of the apartment.

I want you to provide the following information to fill the rent application form and other documents, such as; rental agreement, rent receipts etc.

RENTAL APPLICATION FORM

Full name:
Profession:
Present Address of the applicants:
Zip code:
Reasons for Leaving:
How long do you intend staying:
Do you drink:
Ph Cell & Home:
Email Address :
Single Or Married:
Children:
Pet: If any ():
Date of Tenancy:

I want you to make sure the present address is not mistaken because that's where the keys and documents will be ship to. The contents of the shipment you will be expecting are:

1. Bunch of keys to the property.

2. Documents containing the lease agreement and property description , including the property address.

3. Rent receipts and damage deposit receipts.

I want you to email me once you fill the rent application form, the shipment of the package containing the keys and other documents will be ship by secure courier service once the deposit payment is paid.

Regards"

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the place was for either Brookline or Allston. except this was for a room to rent, I didn't presume it any further with them as they were out of the U.S. and I was only allowed to communicate with them via email.

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It's gotten pretty bad. I was looking for a sublet situation and EVERY SINGLE ONE of the people I contacted through Craigslist was actually a scammer. I wasn't looking for crazy low rents. Like, I was looking for 1BRs without parking in the $2,000 range and six or seven in a row asked me to send money without showing the place.

I finally did find one real sublet through a neighborhood messageboard but they wanted a full-year commitment and it was in terrible condition.

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I've read listings where the apartment owner was recently transferred to Anchorage for a printing job and so would be able to show the apartment to prospective tenants. But he was sure I would be a great tenant and so please send him the first month's rent, etc.

Made me wonder what printing industry jobs are so specialized that the company would look as far as the other side of the continent to hire?

Then there was the fellow who moved to New Orleans but was fed up with realtors and only dealt with prospetive tenants directy (albiet via the direct mail). He told me I could look over the building from the outside and if I liked what I saw to send him the deposit.

A neighbor-landlord has dealt with a person from another nation who sends a check for more than the rental ("because my wife isn't too smart and so wrote a check for too much") and then asks the prospective landlord to mail back a check for the difference. After the 2nd check is cashed the 1st check is canceled with a clawback.

The lesson is an old lesson. If something is too good to be true then it probably is a lie.

And never ever send money or sign a contract without checking out the goods. Can't enter the apartment? Sure sign of a scam. Check for more than it should be? Have them send a another check.

Given this is not exactly something going away any time soon, and since the thieves probably are from out of state, why is Conley addressing this now? Gearing up for another run at mayor?

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who cares why he's addressing it now, or last week, or next week. it's getting addressed, that's all that matters.

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I've heard of apartment scams where the scammer *does* show the apartment to the victim in person. Those are harder to identify as scams, but they obviously happen less often since it's a lot more work, and more risk, for the scammer.

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http://blog.sfgate.com/stew/2013/11/13/bay-area-students-duped-into-leas...

Summary: Scammer breaks into house, changes locks, rents house. Two sets of tenants show up on move-in day, the real ones and the scammed ones.

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Speaking of email scams, there is an excellent show currently at the MIT List center dealing with the subject:

Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige: I Must First Apologize…

through April 17

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This happened to my family when we were selling our home in Roslindale. People kept showing up at our door asking to see the property. After some questioning, I found that they had seen a rental listing for the home on Craigslist (using pics stolen from our real estate listing) and were coming to see the place before they put down a deposit. It was scary that someone was giving out our address and telling potential renters to come on over. We alerted the police.

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this kind of thing is common enough that plenty of properties in a variety of neighborhoods have large signs on the front that read some variation of: "DO NOT BE FOOLED, THIS PROPERTY IS NOT FOR SALE OR RENT"

I stopped relying so much on online listings when, after a phone call with the purported realtor, I went to see an apartment and was told by the doorman who had obviously seen too many people that day that no, there was no apartment for rent. I even began to doubt the legitimacy of places with physical signs hanging on the front.

It's not a new scam, just the intertubes giving us another way to sell the Brooklyn Bridge, you know?

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