If you are looking for a roommate and you placed ads on roommate listings, regardless of whether those listings are free or paid, you will likely get a response from a person who claims that they are interested in being your roommate. This person will have no interest in being your roommate. The only interest is scamming you and stealing your money. Fact: Roommate scams are swarming on roommate lists. Getting familiar with these roommate scams is your first protection against theft and fraud. If you don’t know what a roommate scam is or what it sounds like or looks like, find out quickly before you become a victim. If you become the victim of a roommate scam, you should immediately contact your local authorities and possibly the FBI.
Here’s what a scam roommate email looks like:
I saw your ad on (roommate list) .com I’m looking to rent a room or find a roommate who is nice and honest. My name is Denise and I am 29 years old. Old broker currently living in London with my uncle. I am honest, trustworthy and a loving person who enjoys making good friends and having a good time.
I plan to come to the United States to work at a new brokerage firm with an 8 month contract. I just want to confirm the rent, the utilities and if there is any deposit. What is the total amount to move in? I can pay you 2 months rent and I would like to move out right away. I will have my associate in the United States send you a cashier’s check for the 2-month payment.
Send me your complete information to where you want the payment to be sent by mail
Thank you and I will be waiting for your information to proceed with the payment!
This is a prime example of a roommate scam. There are other similar roommate scams where people claim to be from Canada, UK, Nigeria, Australia, Sweden, etc. Ways to quickly spot a roommate scam are as follows:
1. The person is a foreign citizen
2. They claim they are moving to the US for work, school or modeling purposes.
3. Usually they only give their first name and if you reply with an email requesting their full name, address and email, they sometimes refuse to give it to you.
4. They want to send you your “final pay check” from your current employer and deposit the check into your bank account as a form of payment for the rent deposit.
5. You are asked to cash the check, money order, or cashier’s check (usually more than the amount of the rental deposit) from your bank account or to open an account at a different bank of your choice. Once the check has been deposited into your account, they will ask you to deduct a portion of the money to cover the rent and ask you to withdraw the excess portion to transfer to them. They will explain that they need the extra money back to buy “a plane ticket” and / or “pay for moving expenses.” These checks, money orders, and cashier’s checks are fake. The “overflow potion” you withdraw from the back is how they earn their money. In many cases, once the bank realizes these checks are fake, they will go after YOU for the money.
6. Offer to have “an associate” or “sponsor” they know in the US send you a check, cashier’s check, or money order to deposit at your bank for the rental deposit (again the check, money order and cashier’s checks are fake!).
7. They request your personal information such as full name, address, telephone number, personal email account and bank where you will deposit the checks. Sometimes they will insist on a particular bank to deposit their fake checks.
8. Their emails assume that you have chosen them to be your roommate and will ask you to remove their ad from the roommate list.
9. You receive similar emails that sound almost identical, but with different names and occupations.
10. If you ask them for information, such as their current address, scanned or faxed copies of their passport, visas, and employer contracts, they will refuse to give you the information and make silly excuses why they can’t.
11. If you contact these roommate scammers by email or phone (not knowing at first that you are about to be scammed) and ask for a little more time to investigate or explain that you are interviewing other people, they will They will get nasty and impatient. and bombard you with constant emails, instant messages, and phone calls.
When replying to emails on roommate lists, always make sure to verify as much information about the other person as possible. Ask questions and don’t be shy about it. Remember, you are essentially transferring a stranger to your house or apartment. Therefore, you have every right to protect yourself and ask questions. Trust your instincts and listen for any red flags that may appear if you think you’ve received an email that appears to be a roommate scam. If you are no longer comfortable communicating with someone you suspect is trying to scam you, stop all communication and report the incident to the FBI. You can do this by visiting the FBI website and looking for scam links on the Internet.
Understanding and recognizing roommate scams is the first step to protecting yourself while looking for a roommate. Information is power! The more informed you are about roommate scams, the easier, safer and faster it will be to find the perfect roommate for you.
Happy roommate search!