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What is the best way to check on the legitimacy of a rental posting?

Found an ideal rental, however, the owner is overseas (red flag) and the property is still occupied (kind of a red flag).  I've been in contact with the owner both by email and phone, however, now we're at the deposit and contract stage.  He's requesting the deposit by Western Union (HUGE red flag) and I'm not opposed to this if I can determine this is a legitimate posting.

Any ideas?
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March 08 2012 - Bellevue
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Answers (3)

Profile picture for sunnyview
At this point, anytime that you have a landlord or owner overseas run like wind because 99% of the time it's a scam. No self respecting owner would rent a house without professional management to someone that they did not know when they are out of the country.
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March 09 2012
Here are a few ways that you can determine if a rental posting is a scam:

1. Price - do your research on the local housing market and see if it remotely matches what the property should rent for. It is renting for as low as an apt. or even cheaper 9 times out of 10 it is a scam.
2. Scripted Response - normally they respond with the same old lame story. They are out of state or out of the country doing missionary work and they need a loving nice responsible family to rent their property. They want you to do everything online which means you giving them personal information over the internet. What should put a red flag up is they want you to Western Union them the money even before viewing the property and then they'll send you keys or have someone meet you at the property. Lastly, and sadly they will use the name of God in vain to soften you up and believe that they are quote un quote good people.
3. Availability - Normally they cannot show the property themselves but they can have someone else do it for them. Usually, you don't get this far because they DON'T have anyone to show you the property because it is a SCAM! If they somehow do then we have another problem to deal with.
4. Phone Numbers - Most phone numbers are disconnected and do not work. It rare that they have a working number but in very few instances I've heard that they have.
5. Multiple ads - Lastly, you will see multiple ads of the same property but at different prices. Normally it is the higher price that is the real ad and the lower ones are the scams. Just be aware it if sounds to good to be true it's not true!

I hope this helps!
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March 09 2012
Profile picture for wetdawgs
SCAM!!   Everything you mention is typical of the scams.

Here's a link to the FAQ from Zillow on the subject.

You can report it under "edit' and then "report problem":



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March 08 2012
 
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