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Online scams on rental offers or flat-sharing offers

Posted by investabcom on August 10, 2016

Finding a flat for rent can be difficult, especially at the start of new semesters or while being away from Berlin. Unfortunately, this can create situations where some people take advantage of the lack of knowledge of others and create online scams. Main target: non-german speaking people.

We publish this information today since a few of our customers have seen this happened already.

Online scams when looking for accommodation

Online scams when looking for a flat can be experienced by people who are usually unaware of such offers. It can often become a difficult situation, especially if you have limited budget.

With Western Union

You are currently looking for  flat to live in Berlin. You didn’t have much success so far and time is now of the essence. You then find a very interesting offer for flat to rent, usually furnished. Given the current situation, you get in touch with the so-called owner which will almost invariably reply something like this:

“I currently cannot make you visit the flat as i am living in London. I can however send you the keys against a first installment of XXX€ that you can pay through Western Union. I like to proceed like this since i have had bad experiences in the past. I will to select my new tenants and know if they are trustworthy or not.”

This person can also tell you that he/she will give you the contact details to the estate management agency in exchange. You should of course never pay and instead end the relationship right away.

There will always be someone to show the property, should that be the landlord directly or an estate agent. No landlord will let someone enter their flat without meeting them first.

With fake profiles

There has been other cases of scams when looking for a flat share in Berlin. Using fake profiles on platforms like WG-Gesucht, or Facebook groups where many offers are published for students and where things are going very fast, those scammers can create fake offers as this one for example;

“I am a polish girl currently studying in Berlin. I have a room for rent in my flat”. The offer comes with pictures of the flat and the girl. Her Facebook profile also looks legitimate. However, when getting in touch, she requests that the rent for the whole period should be paid before-hand. Alternatively, the person can request money to “book” your application and offer to meet when she is back in Berlin.

In such cases, it is advised to end any conversation and start looking for something elsewhere.

How to react to those fake offers?

Block contacts and conversations

As soon as there is a suspicion, report and block the offer to the platform and make sure their contact is market as spam so it impacts their IP address and accounts. You will then help other people to avoid those fake profiles and offers.

Try to have a phone call with this person at some point. This is a good way to check if the offer is real as the person will most likely refuse any phone call if it is not. Don’t use any third-party services like Wester Union or others.

Work is a professional agency

There are hundreds of trustworthy agencies putting offers for flats online through recognized platforms. Those offers are usually put online against a fee. An agency has a website, a postal address, a VAT number as well as trade-register file number. All those elements are good signs that the offers are real.

To avoid those situations, our international agents are helping you to find the perflect flat for your needs from the first search to the contract signature. You can get in touch with us through the following pages:

As soon as you get in touch with us, we will get back to you and try to understand your needs with a first phone call.

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