A Chicago man thought he was getting a great deal on a big apartment in town, but he’s now lost $350 and fears his personal information may have ended up in the wrong hands.
Jeremy Vasquez says the deal seemed too good to pass up. He found an ad for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in the Ukrainian Village area of town, rented for $1,550 a month.
“There was this big hangout area, and it said everything was up to date,” he said.
Vasquez said with the rental market as hot as it is right now, he was eager to act quickly.
“I called the number that was on the website and contacted them immediately,” he said.
He said he completed his application, submitted a $50 fee, and used CashApp to send a $300 deposit.
“There was really no reason for me to think it wasn’t real,” he said.
Everything was going great until he showed up at the building to meet with the rental agent to finalize the deal.
“I showed up at 5 p.m. and there was no one there. I called the real estate company on the request and they said ‘this is not one of our properties,’” he said. “‘We don’t know who this person is.'”
Vasquez suddenly found himself down to $350 and, more importantly, all of his personal information.
“I filed a police report and froze my credit,” he said.
Emila Crespo, owner of RCI Realty, says this type of situation is part of a growing trend of fraudulent listings.
“They use different names indicating they are that company or that brokerage, posing as licensed real estate agents,” she said.
Crespo said there are several red flags for tenants to watch out for, including:
-Rental prices below the market
-Money Transfer Requests
-An inability or unwillingness on the part of a parent or broker to meet in person
“I encourage people to take the time and put in the effort to make sure what they’re applying for is legitimate,” she said. “Don’t be in a hurry.”
As for Vasquez, he finally found an apartment, and he learned his lesson to boot, using a trusted relationship and asking dozens of questions in the process.