How to avoid falling prey to the latest Craigslist broker scam

By Lucy Cohen Blatter  | March 12, 2014 - 8:59AM

It's every renter's worst nightmare, forking over thousands for an apartment, then discovering your broker is a con artist--and your money's vamoosed. That's allegedly what happened to 10 women in January, who collectively gave some $22,000 to a man whom police say posed as a broker on Craigslist, DNAinfo reports.

Ploys like this are among the most popular in the city, and there are telltale signs that your broker or landlord is a crook. Aside from trusting your gut, think twice if:

  • You're asked to wire funds or give cash. Legit brokers ask for certified checks.
  • Your broker's engaging in high-pressure sales tactics.
  • The landlord or broker seems too casual. If the landlord doesn't seem to care about giving you a lease, getting your security deposit or checking your credit, something is likely amiss.
  • The apartment is too good to be true (price, quality, size) for the money. There are no major steals in NYC real estate.

You can protect yourself by:

  • Never renting or subletting a place sight unseen.
  • Never handing over money without getting and trying the keys first (though this is not foolproof).
  • If subletting, ask to see the lease and confirm that the name matches the sublettor's ID. However, this won't pick up someone who might be on the verge of eviction for overdue payments
  • Googling all names and addresses involved: check for complaints by other people who've been scammed by the same person or anything suspicious.

Related posts:

How not to get scammed on a NYC rental

Craigslist scam buster: Check Airbnb before handing over the cash

Best of Brick: Anatomy of a Craigslist scam

11 reasons why that apartment is too good to be true

"Sophisticated business people" falling for $21,000 NYC sublet scam

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