Within the past few weeks, we at Rent Hello and Off-Campus Housing 101 have heard from you that there have been an increasing number of emails coming from a scammer on our sites. More specifically, these emails have been coming from one Vera Guillarmo and/or her uncle. We are aware of the issue, and we are working towards correcting it.
Before I explain more, I would like to assure you that, as long as you do not reply or have your contact information listed in your ad’s description box, scammers will not have access to it from our site. Your privacy is important to us here at Rent Hello and Off-Campus Housing 101 and we are striving to make our sites a safer place to be. For now, please bear with us while we work towards better protecting you.
The emails will usually look like this:
Hello, It is my pleasure to write you this note,i am Vera by name,from France coming to United State for some research program and studying of international relation,and i will need either a room or apartment to stay when i come,i just wanna know if the room/apartment you advertised is still vacant,if so please get back to as soon as possible so we start talking about the payment,and also update me the full details about the apartment…thanks in anticipation..hope to hear from you soon. please reply me with your email address Vera email@example.com
It’s a pretty common scam. Here’s how it works:
An overseas individual contacts you via email saying they are moving to your area in the next few weeks due to a job transfer and needs a place to rent. Their email is full of rambling detailed personal information, assurances of their trustworthiness and honesty, usually overtly friendly and religious in nature. Even though they are highly educated professional individuals (engineers, doctors, scientists or ministers), their use of the English language, grammar and spelling is terrible. You are asked to please email the rental terms as well as the property details and pictures (even though it’s on your Ad listing) to them ASAP. Generally, these individuals want to rent your property sight-unseen, ask you to take your Ad offline (offering to pay you to do so) and sometimes even ask you to oversee the arrival of their furnishings. A third party will be issuing you a check on their behalf.
Soon an authentic-looking check complete with watermarks arrives in the mail. These fake checks look so real that they even fool the bank tellers. However, the amount on the check is for way more than you agreed upon (sometimes they pre-warn you it’s going to be more) explaining the extra funds are to cover travel or moving expenses. Usually it creates a financial shortage for the tenant. They engage you emotionally, imploring you to deposit the check quickly (assuring you that the funds are indeed there) and ask you to immediately wire-transfer the difference to a foreign account, of course, inviting you to keep a generous amount for your trouble.
The money is transferred as asked. The “tenant” never shows but has your money. The check that was sent to you bounces and you are left to cover the insufficient funds and overdraft fees.
Let me remind you once more, please, for your own safety, do not reply to these emails. For more information about scams and fraud, please see our guide Scam & Fraud Info here or our blog post: Being Scam Savvy in the Modern Age.
If you have any further questions, or suspect an email you have received is fraudulent, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone us toll-free at 1-800-862-9874