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Cambridge Police Warn Residents Seeking Rental Properties to Be on Alert for Scammers

Scam Alert Image

With families and college students looking to settle into a new place to live before the upcoming school year starts, the Cambridge Police Department wants to make residents aware that this is a peak season for rental scams. As an example, the Cambridge Police removed a fraudulent rental property listing from Craigslist on Friday. The rental was listed as a brand new one-bedroom apartment with a balcony in Central Square for $1,800 a month. However, with rental rates climbing due to record-setting home values, the average rate for a one-bedroom rental property in Cambridge is approximately $3,000 a month according to recent reports. A Cambridge Police detective investigated the posting, determined that it was in fact a scam, and notified Craigslist and the actual leasing office of the fraud. Fortunately, the resident did not transfer any money over to the scammer.

Unfortunately, the Cambridge Police receive an uptick in these scams at this time every year. Residents and students who are looking for apartments should think twice before they send money to someone they don’t know. If possible,
potential residents should call and verify the property is available if the property is owned by a company, check their sources, drive by the property, and meet the property manager at the property.

Here are some other reminders we strongly recommend to avoid and put into practice:

  • Do not wire funds to people you do not know.
  • Do not put money towards a house or apartment you have not seen.
  • Do not make any payments via PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, or any other payment apps for any apartment-related expenses yet to be rented or secured.
  • Confirm the identity of the landlord by researching public records to find out who owns the property you are seeking to rent or purchase.
  • Do not fill out applications online until you have met directly with the property manager.
  • Be aware of local rental prices.
  • Look for online reviews, references, and testimonials from past inhabitants.
  • Be wary if a potential tenant wants to rent property sight unseen.
  • Be wary if a potential renter says they are out of town and will send you a cashiers’ check.
  • Be wary if a potential landlord says he is out of the country and wants the rent sent to a foreign account.
  • Do not accept overpayment for properties. If you receive a check for more than the specified amount, return it. Do not deposit it.
  • If you find yourself the target or victim of a rental scam, stop all contact immediately, and if you have already sent money, it is extremely important to report any transfer of funds to your financial institution, notify the police, and file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov.


For more information about this scam and other scams, download the “Student’s Guide to Fraud Scams” on the Cambridge Police website

Page was posted on 8/16/2022 2:04 PM
Page was last modified on 8/16/2022 2:05 PM
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