Some things I noticed while apartment hunting that tend to indicate a scam:
- logo in a corner of a page- this is often done to overwrite another logo from the site they stole the pictures from. E.g.,
- search for the address- it may come up with a recent for sale listing with the same photos. In fact just having the exact address listed seemed to be a moderate flag for a scam, real places often didn’t list their address but scammers always did.
- right click an image in the posting and select “search google for image”. Coming up anywhere else is a bad sign.
- the phrase “sleeps X” in an ad for a long-term lease- a sign they’ve copied from airbnb
- furnished or has E/V charging- these are really rare, but scammers just check every box. In fact when I wanted to find a photo to illustrate point 1, I searched for “has E/V charging”
- obviously a low price is a bad sign, but there are big costs to ignoring those. A much worse sign is a low price with very nice photos. That requires someone willing to put in the effort for beautiful photos but not make the place nicer to charge more rent.
- Elaborate explanations for why they can’t show the place.
- Allows immediate month-to-month leases.
For information on a more sophisticated scam, check out my friend Jefferey’s post.