Our Greensboro, North Carolina partners at WFMY bring us the story of a mother who was scammed with a fake online apartment listing.  The rental was listed on a popular website, with pictures she would later learn were fake.  She exchanged emails with the alleged renter, who claimed the rental payment was being processed through Airbnb and asked her to send a Visa gift card as a deposit.  Believing the offer to be genuine, the mother sent the payment.  However, the email address was fake, and so was the apartment.

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The FBI warns that these scams are becoming increasingly common, and Call For Action has seen reports of several variations.  Here are some tips to prevent yourself from being tricked:

  • Be wary if your only contact with a seller or renter is through email.  Emails can be formatted to appear to come from a legitimate company.  Check the email address to make sure it actually matches the company’s website.  If you aren’t sure the email is genuine, reach out to the company through contact information you can verify on its website to confirm.
  • NEVER send someone a gift card as payment.  Gift cards are not traceable, which is why scammers often ask for them.  Established businesses will not request this form of payment.
  • Be cautious with online listings for rental properties.  They can be faked.  If it isn’t practical to visit the property before you rent, do some research to make sure the property is real and that the person renting it is genuine.  Don’t send payment until you receive the terms of a contract and are satisfied that it is genuine.

To submit your consumer complaint, use our online form.