Massachusetts renters warned about apartment scams
By Mike Sullivan, WBZ-TV
WALTHAM -- It's a growing trend that the Better Business Bureau (BBB) expects to get worse when college students return in September. We are talking about rental scams.
"A living nightmare is the way I describe it," says Ashley Colindres, a Waltham resident looking for a new place. "They will all ask you to send money up front, tell you that you can go look in the windows to see if you like the place. If you're still interested send us a deposit, and we will mail you the key."
So far, the BBB says 12 people have been hit in Eastern Massachusetts so far this year, however there have been 270 people impacted nationwide. The demand for rent in Boston is extremely high, which is paving the way for scammers to jump in. The BBB warns renters to watch out for ads that appear too good to be true.
"We are talking over $5 million that have been reported lost between the agencies in 2022," tells Paula Fleming, the Chief Spokesperson for Better Business Bureau branches in Massachusetts. "I did confirm [the major rental search websites] do try to vet the postings, but as you can imagine, there are so many postings every day that it is hard to do that."
Sometimes scammers will copy pictures from an old ad to duplicate the fake. A 2018 study from Stanford showed that 43% of renters encounter fake ads.
"I recently had one last month where a gentleman was telling me he was renting out this home because the woman who lived there, her husband passed away from cancer. It turned out to be a scam," tells Colindres.
The Better Business Bureau says younger generations are typically the targets for these types of scammers. If you think you spotted a fake ad you are urged to contact the BBB, the Federal Trade Commission, or the website you saw it on.