Scams cloud the apartment hunt
Time flies when you're having fun – and walking into a job right in the midst of March Madness.
Needless to say, it's been an adjustment the last couple weeks trying to learn on the job here at OnMilwaukee.com while trying to get around town and meet people.
There are still some folks I need to introduce myself to, but so far everyone involved with the Brewers, Bucks, Wave and Mustangs as well as Marquette, UW-Milwaukee, Wisconsin and UW-Whitewater have been great.
The Big Move will be happening soon as it looks like we've found a place here, which is a relief. As most renters know, finding a new apartment can be exhausting. It's true when they say it's a good market for us, but there's still a lot of bad out there, too.
Last I wrote about that process I was nearly losing people's pets but fortunately, I didn't have any such issues at different showings. But, a new problem popped up - nearly one third of the listings I found were scams.
Here are a couple of my favorites:
One person didn't even try, saying they lived in the UK and was the only one with a key and, you know, if I just sent my deposit over they'd send the keys right over – sight unseen.
Another listing included multiple photos and a detailed description of the place, but didn't publish an address. The "landlord" wrote a lengthy reason for this, citing vandalism of the property. So, to keep the place safe, he wanted potential renters to provide information for a "soft" credit check just to make sure, you know, they were on the up and up. But it seemed like a sweet deal – as long as you didn't have more than three evictions. Four, and you were out of luck.
The third listing also had pictures and a nice description and an address, but the contact number listed was a fax number. My wife and I emailed the landlord separately, and we both received the exact same email back, verbatim. The person provided all sorts of personal information about him and his family and what kind of renter they were looking for – except they never offered to show the place. But, if you sent along a deposit, the keys would be on the way.
Fortunately, other renters dealt with the same people and by the time we got around to reporting them to the various web sites, they had been pulled down. At least I hope that's the case. I'd hate to think they were taken down because someone actually sent them money.
It's a sad thing, really. The reason it's a renter's market is because not only are people shying away from home buying, but former homeowners have been forced to rent because of the economy. It sucks that there might be people who are hard up already (or naïve college students) being suckered into these things.
At first blush, you would think "Who would fall for this?" but it does happen. Not everyone deals with a Nigerian Prince who needs his bank account rescued. I have a friend who mistakenly sent information to a PayPal scammer because the email came across as pretty legit, and he's no dummy.
What was so disappointing about this was as recently as two years ago, the last time we were apartment hunting, we ran into no such issues. But, I was glad to see that these listings were taken down so quickly.
In the end, we found a place we love and once leases expire and all that stuff we'll be good to go.
It's funny – I've only ever commuted anywhere from 50 to 70 miles (one way ) to an office – so now that I know I'll be so close to everything I'm a little antsy. Although, the drive down the lakefront during this weather have been nice.
Now the only thing left to do is find a new "home" golf course!
Great article. I have seen that same scam in regards to the person from the UK who said to send her the money before looking at her downtown place for rent. Some good stuff on craigslist but a lot of scams out there.
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