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2020: Craigslist

Craigslist Apartments

I searched for an apartment to rent in NYC, in the first few days of April 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic. I read that the rental market is down, and was motivated to find a deal on an apartment.

Craigslist has more scams listings than actual listings. Especially if you try to hunt for a good deal. I read through 200+ listings, and only about 30 were worth responding to. I skipped the ones that were billboard advertising images. They are obvious; you know them when you see them.

Of those 30 I responded to, about 3/4 were scams. I asked just one question in my response to the ad: “When can I see the apartment in person?” Because that is one thing the average scammer from a foreign country can't do, is to show you an actual apartment. Their response will be everything but an answer to that question.

Of the remaining 1/4 listings that I messaged, I only got one real response. The rest didn't respond. Is the housing market frozen during the coronavirus pandemic?

Craigslist has a forum where you can ask questions. So I asked: “Practically every rental ad that shows an obfuscated email in the body of the ad turns out to be bait for a scam. For example: link-to-example-ad. Should I just flag every rental ad with this feature?

I got the following response:

That's a very well known scammer trick so most < Imelda_Snarkos > 2020-04-14 20:33
People don't bother replying to those ads, they just ignore them. Another trick is to obfuscate the phone number: 8 six 7 5 three oh 9 (for instance).
You are welcome to flag such ads but it would probably be as useful as trying to shoot at rain.
Look for ads with a phone number listed in the “Reply” part of the ad, or use the anonymized email relay.

Update 20200627:

I've resumed looking for an apartment. Another scammer trick is to ask for your email and/or number in the ad. There is a reason that Craigslist uses a proxy for communications. Many times, in response to your inquiry, they will ask for your email address to “send more information”, or “email the owner at such-and-such email address”. Also scam. They want to send you a security code. Definitely scam. They should be doing nothing else than planning with you to see the apartment. In person.

You can find apartments in NYC, that aren't basements, for $1450 and up. In that price range, there are few scam listings.


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information-technology/2020-craigslist.txt · Last modified: 2020/07/05 16:40 by marcos