When hunting for a new apartment, most prospective renters eventually turn to Craigslist. Sure, it may be a little like sorting through a stack of rotten hay to find a golden needle, but it's free, it's updated every few minutes with potential new dream digs, and you can reply to ads anonymously. While sifting through page after page of creepy basement bedsits and budget-busting penthouses, though, keep your expectations realistic and be wary of scams. For example, a recent ad listed an ultra-contemporary two-bedroom, two bathroom apartment at Bay and Richmond for a bafflingly-low $800/month.
It certainly sounds like a great deal:
Apartment is well suited for a couple; both rooms of approximately equal size; both equipped with bed, wardrobe, desk; beautiful and spacious kitchen, set up in 2010; quiet residential area; bicycle storage in the basement.
The place looks incredible: so futuristic and shiny, with an amazing platform bed that elevates to reveal a cool sunken conversation pit. There's a pop-up dining niche, video panels set into shoji screens, and walls made of lacquered modules that slide open to reveal--presto!--tonnes of storage space. However, a little Google Image reverse-searching reveals the real source of the photos: the website for UK-based Yo!Homes (a division of the company behind New York's Yotel), who specialize in creating extraordinary convertible spaces. The Craigslist scammer simply lifted all the images from Yo!Homes's website, tacked them onto his (or her) own modest ad, then sat back to wait for the flood of emails from prospective marks sending their personal financial details. Moral: if it looks too good to be true, etc. etc. Especially if there's a conversation pit involved.
Have you found a blatant rental scam on Craigslist or Kijiji? Talk about it in the comments.
· 5 Warning Signs of a Rental Scam [Better Business Bureau]
· A Guide to Finding The Perfect Toronto Rental Online [Curbed Toronto]