What you can do about rental scams

It’s a common story. A renter finds a bargain apartment on Craigslist, Trulia or another online site, communicates with a fraud artist posing as the owner, agrees to rent the place and winds up swindled out of what they’ve paid.

I recently received the following email from a real estate broker:

Currently I have [a 3-bedroom, 2-bath in East Village] for rent for $2800.

A concerned mother called me this evening. Her daughter found my listing on a few websites (see below) for $1000 per month, and she’s been texting with the so-called owner.

Clearly, it’s yet another scam. Other than reporting the listing to Hotpads and Trulia (so far), I’m curious to know if you have any other suggestions.

This appears to go beyond a simple bait-and-switch ad scheme. I have a simple suggestion: contact the FBI’s local office. In similar cases the FBI has suggested filing a complaint with IC3, the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

If you’re looking to rent in popular communities along Chicago’s lakefront, avoid Craigslist, Trulia and other rental sites completely. Use YoChicago’s comprehensive at-a-glance apartment lists to identify apartment buildings you’re interested in, and work directly with the owner or management company. You’ll save a lot of time and avoid a lot of risk.

We’ve recently begun linking from our at-a-glance lists to a growing roster of detailed apartment reviews. The reviews give you a visual and factual overview of each property’s location, apartments, amenities and policies.

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