Cambridge Police are warning residents to beware of rental property scams in which prospective tenants are asked to wire money without ever stepping foot in the apartment they wish to lease.
Police said Monday that they have seen an increase in the number of rental property scams posted on websites, such as Craigslist and Zillow, with real estate listings.
The scams will advertise property for rent in Cambridge at unusually low prices. Apartment hunters will be told by a person via email that the person renting the property is overseas or away from the property and has to conduct the rental process remotely, police said in a press release.
Once a prospective tenant fills out a rental application, police said the swindlers will ask the individual to wire rent via Western Union or MoneyGram and they will then receive a key to the property via FedEx or UPS. But police said the renter never receives the key and loses the money that they wire.
Police said the properties featured in the schemes are usually properties that are for sale and their photos have been taken from a real estate website. Police said the majority of the scams are being conducted by scammers living outside of the United States and are similar to other scams that are prevalent online.
Police are recommending that anyone looking for rental property in Cambridge meet with the property owner or rental agent and insist on having inside access to the property before agreeing to rent it. Police also advised apartment hunters to think twice before wiring money via Western Union or MoneyGram.
Anyone with questions can contact Cambridge Police Detective Brian O’Connor of the Criminal Investigations Section – Financial & Computer Crimes at 617-349-9307.