Everyone dreads the pain of losing money to malicious scammers. The dread is more palpable in Europe now than ever before. The continent has been a safe place to order your rental apartment online until recently when it faced an uptick in rent scams.
This is placing a significant problem among consumers now that the cost of living is up the roof. Everyone is trying to look for ways to safely and freely get a good vacation apartment, student hostel, or home without being duped into giving out their money to scams.
Scammers thrive when there’s an increase in demand for rental properties and this is the current situation in Europe, especially in the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands. Fraudsters are taking advantage of uninformed, unsuspecting people who are in urgent need of housing. However, if you’re not in the latter category, you don’t want to feel too safe since the fraudsters have upped their game to swindle even the most seasoned house hunters.
The situation is dire in the Netherlands. With the current tight housing market in Amsterdam, it goes without saying that the prices are generally high. However, scammers are offering houses with very affordable, cheaper than you’d expect deals.
For instance, an apartment in Amsterdam costs more than €1605. However, a scammer will offer you a too-good-to-be-true rate of €800. Many consumers, even veterans, fall prey to the scam because of how genuine the deals appear.
In Germany, things are tough for consumers because scammers have found their way into legitimate websites publishing rental options. A scammer would offer you good Airbnb accommodation and offer pictures but if you’re not cautious, you’d end up stranded after realizing that the houses are occupied and the scammer is nowhere to be found.
Here are the key tell-tale signs that you’re in the hands of a scammer:
- Your gut is questioning the deal
In very rare circumstances will your gut be wrong. If you come across an ad that you have some doubts about, be sure to give it a more keen look. Once you decide to cross-check the details of the deals, somewhere along the way you’ll realize that things are not adding up.
- The deal is too good to be true
You’ve often heard that cheap is expensive. Scammers are making people hurt for running for “cheap” stuff online. These deals are often opaque and will start by requiring you to make payment even before the necessary processes.
- Cross-check the pictures
Hence, you want to be a real detective of the pictures they send you. That would make you want to search the environs of the place you’re planning to stay at and look out for them through the windows in the pictures.
Look at the tiny details of the house like power outlets and establish whether they are in line with EU standards.
You may also not expect large tumblers or water bottles in countries whose tap water is drinkable like the Netherlands.
- You’re getting too much information beforehand
Be wary of text messages that provide too many details of the deal upfront. If you realize that you’re being duped, call your bank immediately and block the spam message.
Have you encountered these scams anywhere across Europe? Please share your experience by contacting Scam Help and let’s all help others to protect themselves from these scammers.