News 4 Buffalo

BBB: That “rental property” might be a scam


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Lackawanna police are warning people not to act too hastily in the search for a new place to live.

According to the BBB, scammers are trying to trick people out of their money via fake apartment listings. They say the scammers pose as property managers or landlords and urge people to pay them before they’re even able to see the alleged residence.

The BBB says renters have reported losing thousands of dollars through these scams.

The scammers’ tactics include using pictures and information from actual listings, usually displaying a lower cost than that of the true listing. The scammers may additionally try to entice potential victims with promises of great amenities.

The BBB says scammers may claim to be out of town, in order to avoid showing the alleged rentable property in person.

“The ‘landlord’ replies to your message claiming to be out of town and unable to show the property, creating a ‘sense of urgency,’ for you to act now, so you send the money without seeing the property,” the BBB says.

They may even ask for your Social Security number as part of a phony application.

On March 15, Lackawanna police posted on Facebook about the prevalence of these scams.

“If you are renting or attempting to rent an apartment and the ‘landlord’ requests any sort of payment in gift card form, cash app, WhatsApp, etc…it’s a scam,” they wrote. “If you are unsure, don’t do it.”

The BBB encourages people to see potential properties in person, search online for similar properties, don’t pay strangers with cash apps and watch out for deals that appear to be too good.

You can report a scam to the Better Business Bureau at this link.

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award, JANY Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.