NYC Apartment Agent

New York real estate + beyond

How to Avoid Craigslist Apartment Rental Scams

with 41 comments

NYC apartment buildings. Photo by Bruno J. Navarro.

There are a few steps to avoid apartment rental scams.  (Photo by Bruno J. Navarro)

NEW YORK — In the eternal quest to find the best apartment deal in New York, some would-be renters are falling for brazen scams.

Never mind the unscrupulous licensed types who might attempt bait-and-switch tactics to make a quick buck. One increasingly common flim-flam involves con artists posting Craigslist ads for vacant apartments they neither own, nor have the authority to rent.

Real estate professionals “across the region say they’re seeing more people fall for it, partly because the scammers are no longer just luring victims from afar; they’re now setting up appointments with unsuspecting renters and showing them the homes before disappearing with their money,” according to a story.

In a New York Daily News article, one criminal in Queens swindled “a dozen would-be renters by placing a phony ad on Craigslist for an apartment in Sunnyside that didn’t belong to him.”

While I’ve previously shared a few tips on how to spot and avoid apartment scams, which are worth a look, here are a couple more that helpful readers have passed along:

  • Ask for a business card. Any reputable real estate agent will have a real business card. If you have time, check out the website and see if the agent is listed on it, or call the main number. Of course, sometimes it’s possible that we’re out of cards. If that’s the case, you can ask for the next item.
  • Ask to see the agent’s pocket card. By law, every agent in New York is supposed to carry a state-issued ID card while working. It looks much like a driver’s license, and it lists the agent’s name and company. Many doorman buildings require both a business card and a pocket card before an agent is allowed to show an apartment. Not having a card could be a tip-off that something is askew.
  • Meet the agent at his or her office. At least the first time, it might be a good idea to see where an agent works. This works not only to avoid rip-off artists but also to get a sense of the company’s professionalism (and whether you can file a formal complaint if something does go terribly awry).
  • Don’t deal in cash. Without a record of payment or a way to track your hard-earned money once it leaves your hands, it might be difficult to track down a swindler after the fact. Insist on using a credit card or cashier’s check for the deposit and application fee. If the person trying to rent you an apartment balks, take a walk.
  • Use common sense. If an apartment sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Truth is, there are very few four-bedroom apartments under $400 or even 90-square-foot studios for $700 around.

If you have any questions about whether something seems fishy, please ask me or someone knowledgeable. I’m always happy to help. And if you have any suggestions of your own or experiences to share, please feel free to share in the comments below.

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41 Responses

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  1. My experiences trying to rent out a place in the BK: lost out to “more money” (luckily no money changed hands); went through an exhaustive–personal–application process only to be approved and then “bait and switch” ‘ed into an apartment 1/3 the size of the apartment I had seen originally (if I hadn’t paid for the place with a cashier’s check I was able to cancel, I would’ve been out 2500); found a great place and placed a deposit on it immediately (in cash…), only to be contacted two days later to find out landlord had rented out from under the agent (luckily the guy as legit!)

    Trying to live in the most incredible place on the planet, is not for the faint of heart!

    I think BK needs to come correct with what’s really there: a perfect example of NYC’s tiered structure. If you can’t afford $2500 (minimum) don’t even try for Brooklyn. Head to Queens or the BX.


    2012.03.20 at 13:56

  2. […] you decide to rent, there are a few steps you can take to avoid Craigslist apartment scams. Feel free to share any other helpful tips in the comments, […]

  3. […] How to Avoid Craigslist Apartment Rental Scams « NYC Apartment … Comments Off […]

  4. […] If you decide to look for a new place to live, take a moment to look over tips for avoiding Craigslist apartment rental scams. […]

  5. […] How to Avoid Craigslist Apartment Rental Scams   Share this:MoreLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  6. This guy is out of the country and I cannot get the keys until I transfer the first month a security deposit to him. He says he’s a geologist in the philipines and on the phone he sounds philipino, he also has no agent and says he is trying to find renters himself. The apartment sounds amazing and the 6-7 months he says he’ll be away is perfect for my situation. I want to know how I can avoid loosing all my cash if they try and screw me over the keys, any suggestions? Thanks in advance – Maxwell


    2012.11.26 at 11:12

    • Hi Maxwell, Thank you so much for your note. The details of this transaction sound exactly like a scam, word for word. Remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Please, please, please don’t fall for it.

      Bruno J. Navarro

      2012.11.26 at 11:23

  7. Halfway into my lease, and the management company of the BK row house is switching. Now I’m being asked to make out and mail my rent checks to a different company and address, which is different from what is on the lease. Any thoughts about this one?


    2013.01.07 at 11:36

    • Hi D., Thank you for your question. Generally, most leases will have a clause that allow the lease to be assigned to a new party. It’s not uncommon for apartment buildings to change ownership, with the new owner assuming the existing leases on the property. They generally cannot change the terms of the lease until it expires, however.

      Bruno J. Navarro

      2013.01.07 at 13:32

      • Thanks! It is comforting to know that it is not uncommon. As notice I only received a phone call from my previous manager, then another from my new manager. I feel that I should request written notice.


        2013.01.09 at 13:48

    • My pleasure!

      I would add that it could be a good idea to request the notice in writing, or at least via e-mail, so that you have a record of where your payment is meant to go.

      Good luck!

      Bruno J. Navarro

      2013.01.09 at 14:06

  8. Here is an email I recieved in resp I nse to an inquiry I made about a Brooklyn apartment I saw listed on Craigslist. I recieved two nearly identical responses for two different inquiries I made about two different apartment s in the same neighborhood. Please tell me if this is a scam.

    Hello, I and my darling wife is very happy to inform you that the apartment is still very much available for rent, my intentions and plans is to give out the apartment to a Reliable and Responsible person that would be able to take proper care of the lovely home. It’s an elevator building. It’s indeed a lovely and comfortable home and available to move in as soon as possible, I pray that May the Peace of the almighty Lord be with you for considering my home. Fees needed to move in:Monthly Rent: $780 (Including Utilities)Security / Deposit: $500.1 Bedroom1 BathCentral Air Conditioning APARTMENT FEATURES:Spacious 1 bedroomFlooded with natural lightHardwood floorsKitchen with new appliancesBrand New Cabinets, Electric Cooker & RefrigeratorHeat and Hot waterInternet Access and Cable TV ReadyHigh Speed Internet Access I would like you to know that I am giving out this lovely apartment to you because I have just been assigned by the US Government to lead a Special Force on Counter Terrorism in west Africa, and I am right now in Africa. My duty is at the  international airport here in Africa to search and checkmate any one coming to the United States of America so as to avoid another terrorist attack. My appointment will be for about 5 years. I would like you to fill the below details: ============================================================================================================================================================= RENT APPLICATION FORM FIRST NAME:_________MIDDLE NAME:_________________LAST NAME:__________________SEX:AGE:_____MARITAL STATUS:_____________KIDS___ (YES/NO), HOW MANY:________PRESENT ADDRESS:_______WHY ARE YOU LOOKING TO MOVE?___________HOW LONG DO YOU INTEND STAYING?_______WHEN DO YOU INTEND MOVING IN?________WHAT TYPE OF WORK YOU DO:________________HOW LONG YOU HAVE BEEN STEADILY EMPLOYED FOR:______________WHAT’S YOUR TYPICAL WEEK DAY IS LIKE?:__________PHONE:_________(CELL)PHONE:_________(WORK)PHONE:__________(HOME)_________________HOW LONG?_______IF YOU HAVE A PET?_____-DO YOU SMOKE?______________DO YOU DRINK?_________DO YOU WORK LATE NIGHT?____HOW SOON CAN YOU HAVE THE DEPOSIT PAYMENT SENT TO ME:___HOW SOON DO YOU WANT TO RECEIVE THE KEYS AND DOCUMENTS OF THE HOUSE: ______________ ============================================================================================================================================================= I will need this information because my family and I won?t be moving back to the apartment whenever we’re back, there is no Registration fee. The Security Deposit would be needed as a Security Bond in order for the keys and paperwork along side with Lease Contract agreement to be sent to you… Electric Bills and water bills have been paid for, so I would also need to send the receipts to you, in case it would be needed. I would like you to know that you are free to contact me at any time. After I receive these details, I would get back to you soonest and then let you know my terms. I hope to hear from you soonest. God Bless You, Mr. Jones & Mrs. Nelly Peterson.CELL PHONE #: +234-708-146-8931.  (011-234-708-146-8931).— On Tue, 3/19/13, Asaru Khem wrote:From: Asaru Khem Subject: Inquiry about Apartment for rentTo: jonespeterson644@yahoo.comDate: Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 10:54 AMHello! I’m Travis Maynard. I’m interested in the apartment you listed on Craigslist.The apartment is beautiful. I have a few questions. Where is the apartment located? What requirements need to met to be able to move in by April?

    Asaru Travis Maynard

    2013.03.19 at 16:26

    • Thanks for your note, Travis. That certainly seems like a suspicious listing (it was removed from craigslist). Did you call the number? There isn’t very much for rent in Brooklyn for that price, either, unless it’s a share. Good luck!

      Bruno J. Navarro

      2013.03.19 at 16:33

  9. Need to rent a room or sublet for the summer near the Fashion District in NYC from a distance. Anyone have any advice?

    B Dollard

    2013.05.05 at 20:36

  10. Greetings, I’m a little late on this feed and I’m sorry this entry is so long, but I really wanted to share my NYC rental experience and get any advice/input/suggestions and unfortunately, to understand the situation, I had to explain a lot of the details and circumstances and it’s quite complicated. I am in the process of trying to find a summer sublet in Manhattan and am shocked at the number of scammers I have come across! I am a 31 year old school teacher from Dallas who decided several months ago that I wanted to spend my summer vacation in my favorite city, Manhattan. I did my research, learned the dangers and red flags of rental scams, talked with New Yorkers and got to know the market and realistic prices, spoke with real estate agencies, etc.. I am moving to Manhattan from on June 9th (a week from this Sunday) and thought I had my living arrangements secured months ago; I found out last Saturday that it fell through and now, with less than two weeks before my arrival, I have nowhere to live.
    I started this nightmare with a rental that sounded legitimate on craigslist. After weeks of communicating with a man and speaking with him numerous times over the phone, I almost went with that sublet until he mentioned “wiring money.” Right away, I seized communication because like I said, I had done my homework on rental scams and knew that was a red flag.
    I, then, got in touch with a NYC local who gave me every assurance and guarantee necessary that he was the real thing. He was renting me a room in his apartment on W 127th & St. Nicholas in Harlem. He rents the apartment for himself and his daughter, but he stated that since he is hardly ever there because he is always with his girlfriend at her place, he had been renting out a room in it to a tenant from New Hampshire for the past 6 months and she was about to move back on May 31st; therefore, he wanted to find a new, responsible tenant for a short term period only. This was perfect for me, as I only needed the apt for June and July, so we spoke several times and for several hours collectively over the phone and I did everything recommended to verify that this was a legitimate, fair, legal arrangement … I checked with the building property office, spoke with the current tenant that had rented the room for the past 6 months and was leaving the week before I got there who gave me glowing, positive feedback, I looked up and called his employer, and many other things to conclude that this guy was legit. Therefore, a few months ago, in February, we spoke over the phone (for the zillionth time) and I finally, told him that I definitely wanted to rent the apt for the 2 months and he happily accepted this news (telling me he had spoken with several other prospective tenants and they either wanted something more long term or were not a good fit). He had done his homework on me, as well, and checked my references, rental record, etc. and he said “This will work out great, as you are an ideal tenant.” I told him I wanted to send him a security deposit immediately to hold the apartment and he said that was not necessary because renting the apt was not a necessity for him and he didn’t need the money, it was a luxury and was only going to happen if he found the right tenant, which he had. He claimed that “he didn’t like taking money from people before they had the service provided”, so he said that when I arrived in Manhattan on Sunday, June 9th, he was going to meet me with the keys, show me around the apartment, and at that point, take my check for rent. I kept insisting that I would rather send a monetary deposit to secure the arrangement, but he refused and him declining seemed like a good sign to me… I mean- most scammers are more that eager to take your money and certainly don’t decline it when you offer to send them money repeatedly-right? Well, we got off the phone that night with a “verbal agreement” that the deal was on, 100% for sure, and he said that if anything should change, please let him know immediately so he could look into other tenants. I agreed and once again, offered to mail a security deposit and said that if he should change his mind, please let me know. He said that he was a man of his word, did not need a deposit, and he looked forward to the arrangement. That evening, I noticed he removed his post off of craigslist and the other site his apartment was posted to and I took this as a good sign. As the date got closer, he requested that I periodically “checked in with him,” so that he knew that all was well and we were still on… I did my weekly check-ins, as promised, and last Monday (May 20th) checked in and told him my flight info. He gave me instructions to take the bus from LGA to the bus stop (2 blocks from his building) and said that him and his girlfriend would meet me at the bus stop to help me with my things. At this point, we had been talking for several weeks and this guy is kind of long-winded, so when we did speak or text, he made small talk and would discuss lots of things besides the apartment, like his job, daughter, hobbies, etc, he would ask me questions too and we were friendly with one another when we touched base. I had expressed to him that while my mother loved the idea of me going to NY for the summer, my Dad was suspicious and reluctant. So that Monday,after we discussed the flight info and bus, he asked me how my Dad was taking it since the date for me to leave was quickly approaching. Because we had been speaking freely with eachother and talking as friends, I was honest and said that of course, my dad was still skeptical, as always, and he didn’t like the fact that a verbal agreement with a total stranger was my security. He then asked me if there was any piece of mind he could provide my father with or anything he could do to assure him. I did not bring up my father’s concerns, he did and then offered to assuage my father’s worries, as he said “I have a daughter and I know how dad’s can be, I’m the same way.” I said that I would think about it, but said that it didn’t really matter because I was doing it no matter what he thought and I ended the conversation by saying “No worries! I am very excited!” This was on Monday. Wednesday he texted me that he had an idea and to give me and my father peace of mind- if I knew anyone in the New York area, they could come by for a walk-through to see the apartment, that was an option. He texted and left a voicemail saying the same thing and told me “a walk-through was an option if anyone I knew could come by”, but he ended the voicemail with the words “talk to you later, not important.” I was busy when I saw the text, forgot about it, did not think it was very important and later when I did remember, I tried to get ahold of the one person in Manhattan I know and left a voicemail. I guess I should have called back and declined the offer for someone to come and see the place, but because of the casual tone of his voicemail/text and the fact that we had just talked on Monday and confirmed my flight details and everything else, I did not feel that a response was really necessary, let alone urgent. Finally, Saturday morning (3 days later), I finally heard back from my friend in Manhattan that was my only option for the walk through and he told me that he was out of town until mid June and he could not do it, so I immediately text my “landlord” and tell him that I’m sorry it’s taken me a few days to respond about the walk-through option, but that I was waiting to hear back from someone and it was not going to be possible for someone I know to come by, but thank you very much for offering. He responds about a minute later with this: “Sad news. I took it that you did not want the room anymore because we last spoke on Monday and I got the feeling your dad was getting to you. I texted you and left a voicemail and you did not respond until now. The current tenant asked to stay another few months and I said yes because I thought you got cold feet.” So basically, even though I had checked in for months, checked in the past Monday (5 days earlier), as requested, because I didn’t respond to a text and voicemail for 3 days that did not ever say to call him, but just mentioned the option of a walk-through being available, he “assumed” that I was backing out and gave my room away. I was beyond shocked and of course a series of unpleasant phone calls ensued, and I pointed out the 3 painfully obvious points: 1. I checked in Monday and we finalized travel details and told him I as excited and could not wait, 2. His one text and one voicemail simply mentioned the option of someone coming to see the place, but did not sound urgent whatsoever or request a phone call back and 3. If the girl asked him to stay another few months and he “thought” I was getting cold feet or he was having doubts or reservations that I was going to back out, why didn’t he tell the girl he would have to check with me first and tell her that he would call her right back, then call and/or text me stating he needed to speak with me, and at that point had I not responded, then, given the room away. He made no attempt to even get ahold of me when she asked for an extension. He kept saying that my father’s opinions were seeming to get to me, but he was the one that brought up my father in the first place and asked how he was feeling about me going… yet, he tried to place blame on me for making him insecure. Main point, all he had to do was call/email/text me saying he needed to speak with me…but the bottom line is he is backing out of our deal and his current tenant is staying. There’s not a thing I can do about it except be upset for a while and learn from it.
    I know- I was naïve for trusting a total stranger’s word, but this guy invested a lot of time and energy (calls/texts/emails) not to mention, scanning documents for verification, letting me contact references and his employer, etc. for someone he was just going to screw over in the end.
    And now, I have a non-refundable plane ticket that leaves for Manhattan a week from Sunday and no living arrangements. I turned down several good properties within my budget for this one that I thought was secured months ago. I am beyond sick about the whole thing and at a loss for what to do because it is very last minute and going to be hard to find anything furnished that is available for move in for a week from Sunday within my budget; besides, I don’t trust anyone over the internet at this point and don’t feel like anyone that is advertising property is for real. I learned my lesson & lost a lot of faith in humanity in general throughout this experience, it’s sad but true… Anyway, sorry for this being so long, but the details were important for the story to be understood and I just wanted to share my (horrible) NYC rental experience because I read up and did my research on rental scams and knew what to look for, but still got burned….
    **If there’s anyone out there who has suggestions for last minute living arrangements that are furnished and willing to do a short-term (2 month, June and July) sublet, please contact me at Thank you, in advance, if you know anyone you can recommend who is trustworthy and the real deal and wants a perfect tenant to take great care of their place for 8 weeks.**


    2013.05.28 at 20:33

  11. Hello I’m trying to rent an apt for 4 nights, and I saw a lot of apts very cheap on craiglist. I will like to know if this is a scam, because it really sounds to good to be true. The apt are in a very expensive area or it seems, however i don’t think this part of New York City will be so cheap.

    Need help!!!


    2013.09.19 at 10:00

    • Thanks for your question. I would be very cautious when using Craigslist to rent an apartment. You might want to try another service, such as or, for shorter stays. Good luck!

      Bruno J. Navarro

      2013.09.19 at 11:27

  12. I have a question and need some help. I have recently been on craigslist looking for an apartment and found one on 147 west 73rd. It’s a duplex and I’ll be subletting a room because one the 3 roomates will be moving to London for work. Rent is 1500 plus utilities and they want a 2000 dollar depost this week and 1500 due oct 1st the day of move in. How can I be sure there not going to run with my security depost. I asked to see their original lease and they said they don’t have it because it’s their fourth term in the lease. They seem like okay guys but since I’ll be making a check out to one of their names I don’t want to be scammed out of 2000 dollars. What can I do to guarantee myself? They wrote out a sublease agreement that looks legitimate saying I get the 2000 back as long as there is no damage apart from normal wear and tare. Is there somethin else I can do or am I just bein paranoid. Thanks for your help.


    2013.09.19 at 19:10

  13. Hello I saw an ad on Craigslist for a room in a 4 bedroom apartment in BK for $500 utilities included. I went to view the place around 9pm and the person showing it was the person that was currently occupying it. He informed me and another person that if we were interested that we should put our names on a list and the Landlord would call us and email us paperwork for a 6 month lease. The landlord never called me or emailed me and Ive been following up with the person that claims to live in the room. Last night he text me at 11:34pm to inform me that I could have the room and I dont need paperwork just first mont rent, deposit and ID. When i asked will i meet the landlord he said He would call him when I meet up with him tonight and I could meet because the landlord only stayed 3 blocks away. Is this a scam

    Javell Heggs III

    2013.10.01 at 10:42

    • I can’t say for certain whether this is a scam, but I would be very careful. Ask the renter to see a copy of the lease, as well as ID from the tenant, to make sure that they are the lawful occupants. Does the landlord know you’re moving in? Who is holding your deposit? What happens if one of the other tenants move out? Who will be liable for the rent/damages/utilities?

      Bruno J. Navarro

      2013.10.01 at 12:03

  14. Hi,

    I found a good apartment–but not too good to be true– at $1250 for a very small one bedroom in Bay Ridge. The realtor contacted the super to show me the apartment, and I saw it, it was recently painted and all appliances were new. I never met with the realtor but she put me in contact with the broker whom I met with the next day to sign the application form. We did not meet in his office but it was a saturday so I decided that was fine.
    What I am worried about is that she asked me for the deposit money without signing a contract. I told him that I was not confortable handing out the money without signing a contract and he accepted just the $80 application fee. This made me doubt the whole process. I also can’t find any information on the realtor or the broker online. They have gmail and hotmail accounts and there is no webpage. The broker is actually a registered NYC broker, but for some reason I still think it is a bit funny. Can it be a scam even if I already saw the place?



    2013.11.02 at 21:48

  15. Hi
    I have been looking for a place to rent for a week or so over the end of the year, and I contacted 3 potential ‘landlord’ being interested by the ad each did put on craisglist. However, I got curious because not only the ads looked similar (but initially I thought, it s either a cut and past to have a format or it is an agent that has a portfolio of properties), but also the email exchanges are the same format. Only one of them gave me a name and a telephone number so far. Once of them send me a bank account and routine number and name. I also know the address and apartment number. I have asked to meet the person and visit the flat, and also for some professional contacts and employer (still waiting for the answer).
    Still $100 per night for a 2bd flat in downtown manhattan listed at $1,300 on street easy deosnt sound completely right to me.
    should I also contact the property management company and check witht he doorman?

    Marc VIal

    2013.12.08 at 16:28

    • Thanks for your note. If you’re able to contact the doorman or the property management, I would definitely do so. I have never heard of a legitimate landlord providing a bank routing number for payment. That price also sounds too good to be true for downtown Manhattan, or a two-bedroom. Good luck!

      Bruno J. Navarro

      2013.12.08 at 17:27

  16. Hi.
    I definitely think this sounds too good to be true, but here’s the email for your opinion. Listing found on trulia and zillow. Sent an email and got this back

    Hello —,

    Thanks for contacting me. The apartment will be available for your proposed date, as long as you secure it now before some one else does. The apartment is located at # — W 57th st New York, NY 10019, USA . The 1 bedroom is fully furnished and can also be rented without furniture, newly renovated with all amenities. Beautiful, Modern, Clean & Newly Renovated 1Bedroom Apartment, Loaded With All Amenities:Computer And ** Wireless **Internet.

    Lease term available are month to month, 3 months, 6 months ,1 year it can be renewed when it expires.

    Full Granite
    Full Marble Bathroom
    Cable TV
    Full-Size Bed
    Pull-Out Sofa
    Iron & Board
    Coffee Maker, Filters, & Coffee
    Stove, Oven,
    Flatware, Pots, Pans
    Refrigerator & Freezer

    The monthly rent is $1,300 and plus a refundable security deposit of $1,200, If this is what you are looking for, then let me know so that I can forward lease contract and reservation details for booking.Please provide the following info, So that we can proceed:

    Are you moving in alone?
    Will you take very good care of the unit?
    Your present location?
    Email :
    Phone Number :
    Why are you relocating?
    Exact move in date:

    I apologize for being personal but I need to know who is looking forward to rent my apartment, I await your earliest response to my email as soon as possible.



    2014.01.29 at 08:22

  17. Hi I am not sure if I am bein g scammed or not. Do you have an email address where I can forward you my email thread so that you can let me know if it is a scam or not? The person gave me their bank account information, they are not out of the country just in another state so Im just not 100% sure. I really would appreciate the help!

    kelli rose

    2014.04.09 at 17:47

    • Hi, I would be hesitant to declare your situation a scam or not because what if I’m wrong?! Are they asking for cash or a certified check? Are you able to speak to them? Do they have an office you can visit in person? Is the business registered in the city where the apartment is located? The more safeguards you can establish for yourself, the better.

      Bruno J. Navarro

      2014.04.09 at 17:51

  18. Hi, my situation is weird, I believe I was (almost) victim of a rental scam. I met an “agent” on craigslist, that had a listing with a ridiculously low price. The reason for the low price was that the apartment was rent stabilized. After visiting the place, off course I jumped on the opportunity and decided to apply. I paid $50 cash for the application fee. The next day he called and told me that my application was denied. That evening I checked the address of the property and saw the same apartment, listed by another broker for TWICE the price my “agent” gave me. I called the other broker to see if the place was still available and learned that the application fee was $125, not $50. When I called the real estate agency to make a complaint, a rude representative, pretended not to understand why I was upset since the apartment was offered to me at a lower price and I only paid $50 for application. After that he implied that I was making false accusations and that Mr x (the agent) would never do anything like that , that he would call him and get back to me. Well, 2 minutes later, Mr. X calls, with a defensive tone, starts saying that he’d rather give me my money back than lose his career over $50, that he was just as confused as I was when he realized had the wrong info about the place etc, but he still wants to help me find a new place… basically it’s all a misunderstanding (so he said) and the building management had not event seen my application (so how come they denied it?). In the meantime we decided to meet that afternoon and he gave me my money back (cash) and the application form. My biggest worry was not the $50 however, but the fact that I wrote my social security # on the application. I have a weird feeling about this, as if he reimbursed me just to shut me up and avoid further trouble. Now I can’t file a complaint since he retuned the docs and the money, and there is no indication that he ever tampered w/ my SSN.
    So, Am I being too suspicious? Was this a scam?

    Elvine Belinda

    2014.06.11 at 21:42

    • Hi Elvine,

      Thank you for your comment. The $50 cash “application fee” does sound suspicious to me, though it could be legitimate. However, the process as a whole doesn’t sound professional to me, even if it was on the level. If the real estate company is a member of the Real Estate Board of New York (, I would suggest filing a complaint.

      While I can’t say for sure whether your SSN was compromised, I would strongly suggest requesting copies of your credit report. By law, they are free once a year at I hope that provides some peace of mind.

      Please feel free to follow up with me if you’d like.

      Good luck!

      Bruno J. Navarro

      2014.06.11 at 22:39

  19. Hi I am planning on moving to new York soon. I am relocating from Florida. I looked on Craigslist and found this wonderful 1bedoom/studio for 800 a month and that included utilities and Internet and cable. At first I was stoked.. And then the more and more I told people about it.. The more and more it just seemed too good to be true.. And now I’m doubting every bit of it.. The guy seems really nice but that’s his way of getting me. He hasn’t been pushy or anything but I feel like I am dealing with a scam and seeing as how I am in Florida and can’t look at the apartment in person I’m not sure what to do


    2014.06.25 at 22:35

    • Hi Dee,

      Thanks for your comment. In what neighborhood is the apartment located? It’s possible that you could find a studio for $800 a month if you’re 45 minutes to 1 hour (or more) from Midtown Manhattan, but still something of a rarity. Without a set move-in date from the landlord or broker, I would question the validity of the listing because demand for apartments is at or near all-time highs, and very little remains available for more than a couple of days at most. I would also be wary of sending money without having seen the apartment or even making sure that the person you’re dealing with owns it or is legally representing the owner/landlord.

      Hope that helps!

      Bruno J. Navarro

      2014.06.25 at 22:57

  20. Have you ever heard of


    2014.09.16 at 05:15

    • I hadn’t heard of them, but I would beware of a site that charges you to look at listings. Good luck!

      Bruno J. Navarro

      2014.09.17 at 14:23

  21. […] example, did you know that brokers have a “pocket card” that lists their license details for verification purposes? This is an important tool for […]

  22. I was approved for a no fee apartment in Crown Heights. Small 2 bdrm $1625. The guy renting it wanted me to pay 1625 for a deposit to the owner’s name. When I was reluctant to do that he told me I could make it out to the building numbers LLC. I’m supposed to meet with him on Sunday to sign the lease and pay another $1625. Again he asked if I could make it out to the owners name I said no and he said okay just make it out to the LLC again. I called an agency to see if it was taken off the market and it was taken off the market and the date coincides with my deposit. I wonder if he will show up Sunday? He was an older Orthodox Jewish man who seemed legit other than wanting me to make out the check to a name at first. Any insight? Thank you!


    2014.12.12 at 13:50

    • It sounds a little fishy, but it could just be that the landlord wants to avoid reporting the payments to the IRS by putting the money in his name rather than the LLC. That shouldn’t affect you, though. Just be sure that you pay with checks that can be traced, get a receipt and if the building is six or more units, the landlord has to keep your deposit in a separate, interest-bearing account. Your lease should specify this. Good luck!

      Bruno J. Navarro

      2014.12.13 at 23:27

  23. Is this too good to be true? Really nice looking room just for $450/mo. I am not sure if its a scam or not but i was ask for my facebook link and later my head to toe photo.. Nothing about payment yet.


    2015.07.14 at 05:23

    • For a room in Queens, it seems reasonable. Please make sure to double-check all of the owner’s info, though!

      Bruno J. Navarro

      2015.07.14 at 08:57

  24. […] Rental apartments in the city by the bay have seen some hefty increases in recent months, adding to the probability that your impossibly too-goood-to-be-true Craigslist find just might be a scam. […]

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