Renters more likely to get scammed

June 29, 2009 08:32AM

Brokers say that as rental prices decline, potential renters are more likely to fall for scams. “We deal with customers all day long who think the market is 60 percent off when it’s really 15 to 20 percent, depending on the location,” said Gary Malin, president of Citi Habitats. “Those are the types of people who are susceptible to scams. Whereas when you’re in a very strong market and hearing that prices are escalating and vacancies are hard to find, people are more leery.”One of the most common deceptions is a keys-for-cash gambit where a scammer takes information and pictures from a legitimate rental or sales listing and reposts it under another name with a low rent. Prospective renters are then tricked into paying an application fee or submitting cash to borrow the keys to the unit. Students and out-of-towners are more apt to fall for plots like the keys-for-money scheme, said Leonard Gordon, the director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Northeast office.