A day after reports of a Queens man who made off with as much as $1,000 from each of his dozen victims surfaced, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has issued a consumer alert regarding rental scams perpetrated on Craigslist.org, a statement from his office today said.
“Remember the simple adage, if it looks and sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Scheiderman said in the statement. “Many of the scams originate overseas, making prosecution at the state or local levels impossible.”
The AG’s statement mentions a number of recent scames, one involving a Buffalo couple who supposedly found a New York City apartment on Craigslist.org. After putting down nearly $6,000 in first and last month’s rent and deposit, the couple arrived in New York City to find only an abandoned warehouse at the address where they believed they had leased an apartment.
In the scams that Schneiderman’s office investigated, the person impersonating a landlord or broker will often take a real listing from a legitimate source and use almost entirely accurate information in a post on Craigslist.org, changing only the contact information. The perpetrators of these scams will also often list a telephone number with no voicemail, forcing interested parties to contact them via email, and then asking for deposits to be wired to a bank account.
The AG recommends checking city property records to see who actually owns a property before renting there, and advises against providing copies of identification to potential brokers. He also suggests that prospective renters ask the landlord if he or she is current on their mortgage payments, and then get the answer in writing, and said not to wire funds in any circumstance. — Guelda Voien