Craigslist Rental Scams... Again!
Over the years we’ve posted articles about scams disguised as apartment or home rentals. (See links below.) No matter where in the world the property is located, the scam always has the same basic elements that are meant to trick the victim into wiring a deposit in advance to a scammer without ever having seen the inside of the property. The scams typically begin with a cybercriminal stealing the real estate photos of a property (that is usually for sale) and then posting this same property for rent on a site like Craigslist.
Last week, a woman contacted us about a listing she found in Providence, Rhode Island at 34 Montrose Street. In fact, our search on Craigslist showed this property listed on three different pages:
The woman used the “Reply” button and inquired. It didn’t take long before she got a reply from “Mr Soledad Deats Resendiz & Mrs Daniella Gonzalez Resendiz” who used a Gmail address called “MovementLandlord.” Read through the email and see how many “red flags” you can spot that make you suspicious of the authenticity of the source.
From: Gonzalez <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, Jun 1, 2021 at 11:36 PM
Subject: ***** Application Form For 34 Montrose St ****
To: [EMAIL REDACTED]
Thanks for your interest and inquiries about our home and yes the house is still available for rent as soon as possible. We are looking for a responsible person/family to occupy and maintain the house now that we are not around. My family and I just moved down to CALIFORNIA for a Volunteers support UNICEF’s mission for Saving Life And Protecting People Against the Coronavirus and Our Volunteers are of all ages and backgrounds living in the United States who educate, advocate and fundraise on behalf of UNICEF in their communities.
Everyone is talking about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and everywhere you look there’s information on the virus and how to protect yourself from it. Knowing the facts is key to being properly prepared and protecting yourself and your loved ones.
Visit our site> https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/covid-19
House Address : 34 Montrose St, Providence, RI 02908
No Smoking Allowed Inside.
No Screening Fee/Credit Check
Pet Fee : $100 Every Four Months (Pets must be generally well-behaved)
The monthly rent is $985 inclusive of all the utilities, and the refundable security deposit is $725 making a total of $1,800 for the move-in deposit. There is a 10% discount if you pay for 3 months and 15% discount for 4-5 months upfront. The deposit will be refunded on your move out date if there are no damages. But If there are damages, you can fix/replace damaged property at your expense.
Applicant Personal Information
Name (First name / Middle name / Surname): __________?
Date Of Birth(D.O.B): __________?
Phone numbers (home, cell and office line) #: __________?
Marital Status: __________?
How many proposed occupants: __________?
List all in addition to yourself including approx. Age: __________?
Kids__ (Yes/No), How Many: __________?
Present Address : __________?
When Do You Intend Moving In: __________?
How Soon Do You Want To Pay For The House: : __________?
How Much Can You Put Down Upfront: (Security deposit only, Security deposit + First Month Rent, 3 months Rent + Security deposit Which comes with 10 % discount, 6 Months - 1 Year rent + Security deposit which comes with 30% discount. Please Specify How Much Deposit You Can Come Up With): __________?
Are you a section 8 applicant (Yes/No)
Do you have pets : __________?
Do you smoke: __________?
Do you have any criminal records (Yes/No)
Attach front & back picture of drivers license
I certify that the answers I have given in this application are true and correct. I authorize verification of the information provided in this application to determine my eligibility. I understand that if any part of my application has been falsified, it shall be grounds for denial of residency, or future eviction if discovered after moving into the property. I understand that a home will continue to be offered for lease until I have paid a deposit to hold the home for my move in.
We look forward to hearing from you soon at your convenience with the rental application form above filled out so we can discuss further with the renting process. Please you can only drive by to look at the house from the outside for now if you would like to view the house or to verify the address because it is currently locked for security purposes.
Mr Soledad Deats Resendiz & Mrs Daniella Gonzalez Resendiz
"Everybody Deserves a Home Both The Rich And The Poor.
Thanks and God bless.
HERE ARE THE 7 RED FLAGS WE IDENTIFIED IN THE ABOVE EMAIL:
The sender’s email address is a red flag because it was chosen to suggest the legitimacy of a landlord. “MovementLandlord” is an odd email choice, in our opinion.
We have seen rent scammers routinely use phrases like “We are looking for a responsible person/family to occupy and maintain the house now that we are not around.” The phrasing is meant to trigger a response to make the new victim feel like she or he has to prove their trustworthiness, such as sending a deposit. This is then followed by an announcement from the owner that he/she is now out of town and not around to show the property.
TAKE OUT YOUR TISSUES! Scammers will often give you more information than you need because they want to pull at your heartstrings and make you THINK they are good, God-fearing people who eagerly help humankind. In the above email, Mr Soledad Deats Resendiz & Mrs Daniella Gonzalez Resendiz told the woman that they have moved to California to join Unicef’s effort to “Saving Life And Protecting People Against the Coronavirus.” Then they continued with information about Unicef, including a link to their website. This is a HUGE red flag! These fake landlords are NOT good and honorable people!
“Pets must be generally well-behaved.” Seriously?! How can anyone set this expectation?
This statement is a significant red flag: “There is a 10% discount if you pay for 3 months and 15% discount for 4-5 months upfront.” REAL PROPERTY OWNERS rarely make this offer! But rental scams ROUTINELY include this offer, hoping to collect more money from victims of their scam!
Some of the questions asked in the email are seriously questionable, and possibly illegal to ask. The list of personal questions should make everyone feel uncomfortable. Keep in mind that this is the first contact with the “owners.” There have been no phone calls, let alone a video call or in-person meeting.
Perhaps the biggest red flag of all is this statement at the very end…. “Please you can only drive by to look at the house from the outside for now if you would like to view the house or to verify the address because it is currently locked for security purposes.”
That last statement should expose this as a scam to everyone! “Mr Soledad Deats Resendiz & Mrs Daniella Gonzalez Resendiz” can’t let the woman inside to see the property NOT because they have moved to California but because they are scammers and don’t own the property! They can’t provide the keys but they certainly want the woman to think they will send her the keys if she wires money to the scammers!
Once we identified many red flags about this rental, we hopped onto Google to see what we could find out about this property. It took seconds to see that this house located at 34 Montrose Street in Providence, RI, is actually for sale. In the links and screenshot below, you can see the property listed for sale on 3 different realtor websites for $279,900 (as of 6/6/21), including Realtor.com.. If you look at the link to Compass.com, you will also find the EXACT same text that was also used by the scammer on the Craigslist rental post, word for word!
This scam may seem obvious to many of our readers but the demand for housing is high. Landlords can make people feel like they are fielding calls every hour for a property. Though home hunters may feel a bit uncomfortable about the circumstances, some will still wire a deposit, thinking this is the only way to lock in this deal! Sadly, we are confident that this scam is successful because it has been going on for years. Craigslist is the most commonly used site to target victims.
If you would like to read about more of these rental scams, visit any one of our articles:
Daily Scam Home Page