How it works:
- Situation: you see an ad on a classified ads site (e.g. Craigslist) for an apartment in the trendy area of Pocitos for a really good price.
- Opening: the owner claims to be working overseas – hence he is renting the apartment out. Throughout your email conversation, you find that his emails are worded in poor English.
- Set-up: he provides a form to be filled, requiring lots of personal data that he doesn’t really need to know. Next, he wants one month’s rent plus a deposit via Western Union/MoneyGram. Once the transfer is done, he will send the keys to you via UPS mail.
Places to beware:
What to do:
- Platform: use one with buyer protection rights: e.g. Booking.com (Frommer’s tests found it to have the best selection and rates).
- Due diligence: search online reviews and if apartment has listings across other platforms, check if they are consistent. Grill the owner by asking specific details or made-up details to test if he can call your bluff. Test him by requesting a visit by a local friend.
- Do not: pay in full upfront and off the platform (Western Union/MoneyGram is irreversible).