Rental Scam! Red Flags and How to Avoid.

in
Miami, FL
Level 3
80,225 Views

*The reason why I started a new coversation regarding rental scams is because "the owner" I contacted sounded legit and seemed to know Airbnb long-term rental rules. Different from other scamming stories I read online, he did not ask me to transfer money outside of Airbnb (at least not yet). Instead, he indicated that everything, including the payment and the rental contract, will go through Airbnb. However, he still raised lots of red flags (details down below). After contacting Airbnb Customer Support, they confirmed that the emails were sent by an unauthorized party.*

*From what I know and hear, Airbnb DOES NOT have local agents to help handling the rental matters.*

*Check the website URLs. Should be under "www.airbnb.com". Otherwise are fake.*
*If you are in doubt, contact Airbnb Customer Support before taking any actions (including clicking links in the emails if any).*  

 

For the past few weeks, I have been searching for an apartment to rent in Miami. I found this too-good-to-be-true listing on both rental website (Zumper) and advertisement on Facebook Marketplace. For those who don't have much idea about Miami rental price: normally a 1 bed/1 bath apartment cost around $1,200+ just the place itself. This listing offers $1,000 only for a 2bed/2bath townhouse including all utilities (water, electricity, internet etc.). Out of curiosity, I made contact through Facebook message. It was later on directed to Zumper for "the owner" to contact me via email. At first he sounded cool (tho explained a little too much), but soon rasied lots of red flags once he mentioned Airbnb. 

 

  1. No listing post available on Airbnb site.
  2. Described Airbnb as "the biggest international website dealing specifically in rental properties." 
  3. Ask for information in order to "provide Airbnb with your details."
    (Never heard hosts booking for renters on Airbnb. Should be the other way round!)
  4. Only allows potential tenants to check on the property after paying full amount deposit (in my case $1,000).
    (Mentioned refund but do not trust them! Why don't you allow people to book one day stay with a discounted price (or even in full) to check on the property?) 
  5. "The property looks like in the pictures."

Other detials I found weird:

- Almost exact wording as other Airbnb scams people shared online. "If you decide to proceed with this transaction, ..."

- Keep mentioning Madrid/Spain. Okay, I get it. You live in Madrid/Spain. 

- Interesting timing. He sent me emails at 6:58pm, 10:05pm, and 10:43am EST. I did a little math, it should be 12:58am, 4:05am, and 4:43pm Madrid/Spain time. Sounded like a hardworking person who is very eager to rent out his property in Miami/USA.

 

Following are the emails:

#1
Hello,
My name is Miguel Rufino Garcia and I am the owner of the property I am happy to let you know that it is still available for long or short term rental. I bought this property for my daughter during her studies in the US, but now she is back home in Spain, so I'm renting the place for unlimited time (obviously preferable for long periods).
The property looks like in the pictures. The utilities (cold/hot water, electricity, wireless broadband Internet, digital TV, 1 parking spot, dishwasher, garbage disposal, microwave, refrigerator, washing machine, etc.) are INCLUDED in the price of $1,000 per month. One month deposit of $1,000 is also requested and fully refundable once you decide to leave the apartment (with a 30 days notice before). As from my side, I will never ask you to leave the apartment because my daughter is permanently living here in Madrid/Spain, so we won't disturb you.
Before we proceed I would like to know a little something about you, like how many persons you intend to live in the property, and for how long.
All the best from Spain,
Miguel

#2
Hi again,
Everything sounds good, but as I said, I live in Madrid/Spain and unfortunately i cant be present to deal in person. I can arrange to rent the apartment from Spain through AIRBNB, which is the biggest international website dealing specifically in rentals properties.
I hope you are familiar with Airbnb, but if not i'll explain you how it works..
If you decide to proceed with this transaction, I will need your phone number along with your full name, the date when you want to enter in the apartment, how many people would live there and for how long.. Then I will start the process through Airbnb here in Spain, providing them with your details. Next you will receive a notification message with all the instructions that you need to follow in order to complete the process and receive the keys with the rental contract.
This is the only way i can proceed, so hopefully you will find it ok in order to secure the apt in your favor...
Let me know,
Miguel

#3
Hello again,
At this moment i dont have it listed on Airbnb, but if you are interested, Airbnb will send you a notification and you can see the listing with pictures and description on Airbnb website. Also on the notification, you will receive the steps on how you need to proceed in order to book the apartment. Everything will be thru them, including the payment and sign of the rental contract. Once you confirm the booking with Airbnb, an agent from them will show you the apartment. However, they will ask you to pay them the security deposit in amount of $1,000 before that. They will hold your funds and they wont release anything to me until you have checked the apartment, you decide to rent it and we sign the rental contract. At any time, you can request for a refund if you are not happy with the apartment.
Please send me your full name, phone number, the date when you want to enter in the apartment, how many people would live there and for how long.
Looking forward to receive your email.

1 ACCEPTED SOLUTION

Accepted Solutions

Re: Rental Scam! Red Flags and How to Avoid.

in
SF, CA
Level 10

@Charlotte285 thanks for posting this information.

 

Don't forget there is also an existing, very long discussion about these types of scams.

 

https://community.withairbnb.com/t5/Help/Rental-scam-using-Airbnb-How-should-I-go-forward-if-at-all/...

 

View solution in original post

168 Replies

Re: Rental Scam! Red Flags and How to Avoid.

in
Templeton, CA
Level 10

@Charlotte285. Thank you for taking the time to document and share your experience!  

 

This is actually a quite common scam:  people find places to rent on websites other than Airbnb (apartments.com, craigslist, etc.) and they get the same stories about having to pay a deposit and then an Airbnb "agent" will assist with getting into the property.  All bogus, of course. 

 

Hopefully your post will save others from being scammed in this manner.  Good job!

Re: Rental Scam! Red Flags and How to Avoid.

in
Miami, FL
Level 3

Thank you Clare! I do hope this post helps other people.

 

I also shared the experience on personal Facebook page. One of my friends commented saying many of the listings are not even vacant, instead, they are somebody else's home! In his case, those people tried to "rent" his sister's house (for some price that was too good to be true), so the renters just randomly showed up......

 

Re: Rental Scam! Red Flags and How to Avoid.

in
New Lenox, IL
Level 1

thanks for posting @Charlotte285

I knew something was up when this person mentioned using airbnb, but the emails they sent are almost identical to what urs!!  shady!!

Re: Rental Scam! Red Flags and How to Avoid.

in
SF, CA
Level 10

@Charlotte285 thanks for posting this information.

 

Don't forget there is also an existing, very long discussion about these types of scams.

 

https://community.withairbnb.com/t5/Help/Rental-scam-using-Airbnb-How-should-I-go-forward-if-at-all/...

 

Re: Rental Scam! Red Flags and How to Avoid.

in
Miami, FL
Level 3

Thank you for adding the link!

 

The post is very helpful. I joined the conversation as well. However, like you said it is a very long discussion, so I think having another more cleared up post may help people out. Plus most experiences on that post mentioned the scammers asked them to transfer $ outside of Airbnb to Escrow accounts, but the one I encountered sticked to using Airbnb services-- clearly a more advanced method! Hope nobody gets scammed after this post. 

Re: Rental Scam! Red Flags and How to Avoid.

in
Curitiba, Brazil
Level 2

unfortunately, I got scammed before I read this post, and the worst part is that I sent my money. I am desperated

Re: Rental Scam! Red Flags and How to Avoid.

Level 2

same as you. i wonder what we can do next. 

Re: Rental Scam! Red Flags and How to Avoid.

Level 2

The exact same person contacted me and instead said his son studied in the us and recently went back home. He had great reviews on airbnb wich I’m sure are all bull**bleep**. Thank you for posting this. I’m glad I did my research. People are unbelievable 

Re: Rental Scam! Red Flags and How to Avoid.

Level 2
This is Miguel R. Garcia and I am the owner of the apartment, I am happy to let you know that it is still available for long or short term rental. I bought this property for my son during his studies in the US, but now his is back home in Spain, so I'm renting the place for unlimited time (obviously preferable for long periods).
 
The apartment looks like pictured. The utilities (cold/hot water, electricity, wireless broadband Internet, digital TV, 1 parking spot, dishwasher, garbage disposal, microwave, refrigerator, washing machine, etc.) are INCLUDED in the price of $1,000 per month. One month deposit of $1,000 is also required and is fully refundable once you decide to leave the apartment (with a 30 days notice before). As from my side, I will never ask you to leave the apartment because my son is permanently living here in Madrid/Spain, so we won't disturb you.
 
Before we proceed I would like to know more about you, like how many persons you intend to live in the apartment, and for how long.
 
Best Regards,
Miguel

 

 

Re: Rental Scam! Red Flags and How to Avoid.

in
Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Level 2

This scam is still in circulation. My partner and I just came across this script verbatim for an apartment to rent here in Canberra, Australia. This time though it was Karina's daughter who had moved permanently back to Spain and now Karina needed to rent it out...

 

Thankyou so much for your post alerting us!

Tags (1)

Re: Rental Scam! Red Flags and How to Avoid.

Level 2

As a general rule, I would never pay anyone any amount of money to simply see the inside of a property. Museums and murder houses excluded, clearly. 

Re: Rental Scam! Red Flags and How to Avoid.

in
Charleston, SC
Level 2

Thank you for posting this! I found a perfect apartment in Atlanta through apartments.com and he responded with that exact email.  I will save myself the time and stop now.  I appreciate it.  Thanks.

Re: Rental Scam! Red Flags and How to Avoid.

in
Como, CO
Level 10

Seems to come up daily and no doubt similar things are associated with all the other booking sites.

 

Using AirBnb for long term booking anyway is supicous, somebody doing this need a lease.

David

Re: Rental Scam! Red Flags and How to Avoid.

Level 2

Thank you for sharing! The exact same thing just happend to me! I was live chatting with them and when I found your article, I wrote them back and said "Y'all are a Scam..... PATHETIC!" then BAM just like that the live chat disappeared! 

 

I can not thank you enough for this post!

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