Avoid Scams and Fraud

The convenience of shopping online brings with it a heightened risk of scams and fraud.   You should always be mindful and vigilant before providing anyone your personal information or sending payment of any kind.   We work hard to provide our users with the freshest and most comprehensive library of rental listings, but fraudsters are also working to scam you out of your hard earned money.  When we work together, we can take steps to make our online marketplaces the safest they can be.     Be aware we do not participate in any rental transactions and cannot refund your money if you are scammed.  While we work around the clock to ensure that you have a positive experience using our site, we cannot guarantee that our sites are 100% free from false or fraudulent listings.

What We Do

-           Apply a CoStar Verified® Badge to listings submitted by known property management companies;

-           Warn users when they are viewing the listing details for listings that have not yet been verified;

-          Immediately review and remove listings that are reported as suspicious, if appropriate;

-          Fully and transparently support law enforcement investigations of listings fraud; and

-          Independently investigate suspicious and fraudulent listings and pursue legal action where proper.

What We Ask You to Do

-           Look out for scams.  Here are some of the most common red flags:

  1. Rent offered below market.  Scammers know that innocent renters will be less cautious if they are motivated to close quickly on a deal so they don’t lose out on something too good to be true.
  2. Request to wire money.  Legitimate landlords do not ask renters to wire money to any account, especially an account located abroad.  Nor do they ask for money by Western Union, MoneyGram or other money transfer service.
  3. Request to use another listing service or escrow account to transfer money.  Scammers may impersonate legitimate listings services, like AirBnB or HomeAway, or request that money is sent to an escrow account to make renters believe they are dealing with a legitimate entity.
  4. Claim of affiliation with us.  Scammers may impersonate Apartments.com or Apartment Finder to make it seem like we participate in the lease transaction or transfer of funds.  We do not participate in any transactions between landlords and renters, and we will never ask you for money to use our site or any of our services. 
  5. Dramatic landlord story.  The landlord has received a job assignment abroad and must rent the unit ASAP.  You are invited to drive by the building, but no one can show it to you because everyone is already living abroad.  And you need to commit in the next 24 hours because dozens of people are waiting to sign the lease.  A legitimate landlord will meet you in person and allow you to tour the property before asking for a deposit to secure the rental.  
  6. Can’t or won’t meet in person. For whatever reason, the landlord/agent refuses to meet you in person at the property. They may even send you an access code to unlock an electronic lockbox to gain entry by yourself to the house, condo or apartment you are looking to rent.

-           Report scams immediately and with as much detail as possible (including copies of the communications with the scammer and money transfer details) to:      

  1. Us by marking the listing as Suspicious on the site and calling 888-658-7368 x2 or emailing support@apartments.com
  2. Your local police department
  3. The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
  4. The Federal Trade Commission
  5. If you sent money by Western Union or Money Gram, those vendors’ customer service departments may be able to stop the transfer:

Review these real life examples of rental listings scams and make sure it doesn’t happen to you:

  1. Sender from payment@office-apartments.com impersonates Apartments.com to get money wired to bank in Poland on behalf of landlord identified as “Dr. Ing. Manfred Adam Georg Heeb” in Germany with email address of immo8263839201@gmail.com

    Date: Wed, 6 Apr 2016 09:10:40 +0200
    Subject: Apartments.com examination process started - Invoice WX41479044WX
    From: payment@office-apartments.com
    To: estefaniabar04@hotmail.com

    Apartments.com examination process - started 
    Itinerary:Verification code: WX41479044WX 
    Apartments.comHouse / Apartment Address: 2384 SW 10th St, Miami, FL 33135 - USA.2384 SW 10th St, Miami, FL 33135 - USA. 
    Transaction Date :2016.04.06 
    Rental trial began on: 2016.04.06 - WX41479044WX

    Current status: deposit not confirmed Deposit (1 month rent) USD $ 1.200,00 Total: USD $ 1.200,00 Apartments.com review process started: Tenants: Maria Estefania Barrios

    Address: 1236 SW 4th Ave Apt 1Gainesville, Florida 
    Landlord: Dr. Ing. Manfred Adam Georg Heeb

    Address: Wegscheidestrasse 2460435, Frankfurt Main Germany . immo8263839201@gmail.com
    Payment Information: Instructions on how to send your payment to be checked. Your payment must be made by bank transfer. The amount of USD $ 1.200.00 must be sent to our account. The funds will be checked and saved in a non-interest-bearing account until you meet with the Landlord and check the apartment then take the final decision on the rent. Deposit review process usually takes less than 48 hours . After 48 hours this review process must be restarted . Important notice: The tenant can make the Bank transfer in value of USD $ 1.200.00 using Online Banking option . 
    Bank details: Transfer title must start with 'WX41479044WX' Example: WX41479044WX RENT invoice

    Important! REFERENCE NUMBER: WX41479044WX

    Account name: ?Currency One SA Apartments

    Account number (IBAN) : PL12 2490 0005 0000 4600 9588 3546
    Bank name: Alior Bank

    Bank address : Szyperska 14, 61-754, Poland .

    Important: You confirm the deposit by email to the landlord at immo8263839201@gmail.com with the following information : - E-mail Subject "review process WX41479044WX- deposit " " ; - Bank receipt . 
    Cancellation Policy: You can cancel anytime this rental but you need to write the reason to the landlord . To cancel the rental agreement , please send an email with the subject "Cancellation WX41479044WX" to the landlord immo8263839201@gmail.com . 
    Yours sincerely,

    Apartments.com staff ! 
    This is a generated email. Please do not reply to this message

  2. Fake owner allegedly located in the UK provides overly detailed story on why the unit is available and why she does not live in the U.S.:

    From: Ella Waddy <ellawaddy@gmail.com>
    Date: Wed, Mar 2, 2016 at 1:55 PM
    Subject: Re: Apartments.com lead for
    To: "tanastrout@gmail.com" <tanastrout@gmail.com>

    Hello There,

    I am happy to let you know that my apartment is presently available even
    for long and short term periods. I am Ella Waddy, the owner of the
    apartment. I bought this apartment for my daughter during her studies in
    US, but now she's back home (London/United Kingdom) permanently, so I'm
    renting the place for unlimited time.

    The flat is exactly 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 $1,500 per month and one month deposit
    is also $1,500 and you get it back, once you decide to leave the apartment
    (with a 30 days notice). As for me, you can rest assured that I will never
    ask you to leave the apartment. My daughter is building her live here, and
    I am too old to move to US, so we won't disturb you.

    Before we go any further I would like to know a little something about you,
    like how many persons you intend to live in the apartment, and for how long.

    All the best from London,

    Ella Waddy

  3. Landlord who cannot deal face to face because he lives in the UK says Airbnb agent will hold a refundable deposit and give renter an opportunity to inspect the apartment:

    From: William Jackson <william.jackson2099@gmail.com<mailto:william.jackson2099@gmail.com>>
    Date: May 12, 2016 at 12:18:13 PM PDT
    To: Melanie Murphy <Melaniemurphy000@hotmail.com<mailto:Melaniemurphy000@hotmail.com>>
    Subject: Re: Apartments.com? lead for

    Thank you for your reply!

    As I said, I'm in United Kingdom and cannot be present to deal face to face.

    I can make arrangements to rent the apartment from United Kingdom through Airbnb. com<http://airbnb. com> which is an international company dealing specifically in rentals apartments, I used it in the past and I was very pleased.

    I will explain how it works..
    If you decide to proceed with this transaction, I will need your phone number, full name, full address and email where you want to receive the keys and the temporary contract. Then I will go at Airbnb. com<http://airbnb. com> company from United Kingdom provide them your informations, and they will start the process right away in US. Next you will receive a notification message from them containing all the instructions that you need to follow in order to complete the process and receive the keys.

    Regarding the Payment, you will be instructed to do the deposit to an agent from Airbnb.com<http://airbnb. com>, they will hold and insure your money until you check the apartment and decide if you want to rent the place or not.
    You have to pay $1,200 + $1,200 = $2,400, if you will not be satisfied with the apartment the total amount will be refunded in same day after your request. You will be given a 2 days inspection period from the day you receive the keys and contract. Durring this period you can take a decision. If you like the apartment then we will make a direct rental contract. As for the monthly payment are done directly to my bank account from United Kingdom at the beginning or end of month, at your convenience.

    I look forward hearing back from you.

    William Jackson