Apartment scam..or not?

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Apartment scam..or not?

Postby LuckOne » Mon Aug 02, 2010 3:58 pm

It seems that I am a scam victim. I've found an agency, who provides short term rentals. They offered me a suitable long-term accomodation and now want me to pay down payment (15% from the total amount of rent) via PayPal or bank transfer. They do not sign any serious agreements, except one between me and the agency, with no terms and conditions or laws- just a few words that I'm paying a down payment for the apartment located *** and that's all! They explain it with unnecessarity of the agreement and they say that it cause a lot of paper work. In fact, it's common to pay 15% down payment for short term rentals without any agreements, but here the question is about 1000$ and I don't want to risk with such great sum of money
The agency name is Citybed and they are located in Berlin. Have anybody heard about scam from this agency?
The thing that embarrasses me is that I should transfer money to the bank account and adress it to the specific- the agend I deal with
LuckOne
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Re: Apartment scam..or not?

Postby lightfair » Mon Aug 02, 2010 4:46 pm

It's probably similar to the scenario I described to you in the other thread: "citybed" is an existing company, indeed. However you are probably not in contact with anybody from this agency but with people simply claiming to be representatives. The whole "send the money to our agent" thing is very typical of this.

I need more details; if possible the mails coming from the "agency" including the complete mail headers (you may want to delete your own mail address from the headers).
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Re: Apartment scam..or not?

Postby LuckOne » Mon Aug 02, 2010 6:15 pm

Here are some mails from the "agent"

Dear Xxxxxxxxx,

Thank you very much for your mail and thank you for the booking with Citybed in Copenhagen. The host/owner is –
Michael Xxxxxxx

Xxxxxxxxxxx ##, #th floor

XX-#### Copenhagen

Mobile: + ## - ########

Mail: michaelisaksen@yahoo.dk

Special agreed price per month for two persons DKK 9500; bedlinen, towels, all taxes and VAT included as well as heating, electricity, water and internet. Washing of bedlinen and towels during the stay is at your own cost (laundry in the house can be used for free)
The price (in total DKK 45000) is to be paid as agreed/follows –
15% (DKK 6750/€ 920) deposit/down payment upon reservation. The deposit is to be paid so that the amount is on my PayPal or bank account by the latest on August 2nd .The amount can be paid either via PayPal (if so please use the mailadress info@citybed.dk). Please notice that payment via PayPal may be a little more expensive than banktransfer because of the fees they charge. Because of these fees the amount if paying via PayPal is € 950. If you prefer to pay via banktransfer this should be done to the following account –

Name and adress of bank: Berliner Sparkasse, Nollendorfplatz 3 – 4, D-10777 Berlin (no reason to worry that the bank and my address is in Germany; the reason being that I live in Berlin/Germany and runs the business from here)

Name and adress of account holder: John Pedersen, Martin-Luther-Strasse 11, D-10777 Berlin

IBAN-number: DE37100500006010971436
Swiftadress/BIC-number: BELADEBE
Amount: € 920

Please let me know which of the methods of payment you are going to use and when the payment is done; I will then check my accounts and confirm when I have received the amount

The remaining amount (DKK 38250) is to be paid as follows -

Period Date of payment Amount

18.08. – 18.09. 18.08.2010 DKK 8000

18.09. – 18.10. 18.09.2010 DKK 8000

18.10. - 18.11. 18.10.2010 DKK 8000

18.11. – 18.12. 18.11.2010 DKK 8000

18.12. – 10.01. 18.12.2010 DKK 6250

Terms of cancellation:
Please notice that a cancellation less than 14 days before the booking begins will be charged with 5% of the total amount
Please notice that terminating the rental period before the time agreed should be done with a notice of at least one month. Later termination will be charged with 5% of the total amount

Please contact the host to reconfirm the booking as well as to make arrangements about the time of arrival on the day
Do you have any further questions please let me know.


As about the down payment it is common that the agent (or the owner of an apartment if you would have been dealing directly with him) requires some kind of down payment or deposit to secure the booking. If not theoretically the guest can quit the contract and we don`t then have any chance of claiming anything. Therefore down payments are always required whether it is a booking just for a few days or for several months as yours. If a deposit payment had been made directly to the owner it would as I mentioned in my latest mail usually be one – three months rental but as I as an agent work different I only require the down payment and not an actual deposit amount


As I of course don`t want to cause any problems for you whether now or later I do suggest that I in your special situation issue two signed contracts; one on the down payment/deposit part (between you and me with the payment terms agreed) and one on the remaining part (between you and the host/owner). Both would be basic contracts like the one I mailed you earlier today without the many details which are only relevant in the cooperation between me and the host. Would this solution be OK with you?


Please let me know how you are going to pay the down payment (bank transfer or via PayPal) and let me know when you have done it so that I can check either of the accounts and confirm to you when I have received the money. Thank you
If you haven`t already done so please remember to contact the host/owner to inform him about your expected time of arrival on the day
LuckOne
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Re: Apartment scam..or not?

Postby lightfair » Mon Aug 02, 2010 10:36 pm

Hello,

this is indeed a bit difficult to judge.

As I said, citybed.de (and citybed.dk) appear to be existing companies. If a paypal payment is to go to info@citybed.dk this indicates to me that it is going directly to the company (the domain was registered a long time ago; so I don't see any problems here). On the other hand, the direct payment to the agent is somewhat suspect.

The host/owner of the apartment can comparatively easy be tracked down by his email (I'll probably delete this data tomorrow; no need for this to be on the 'net).

In my opinion the easist thing would be to call citybed (in Berlin) tomorrow and ask them if everything is ok ("Does the agent really work for you? Is it standard procedure to wire the money to the private account of the agent?"). Everything might be legit and they simply might not be aware how close this procedure is from its looks to a typical scam.
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Re: Apartment scam..or not?

Postby susan10 » Thu Oct 27, 2011 9:37 am

There is nothing wrong with being careful! I had to rent long-distance and it was scary. I got my apartment from Craigs list, too, but I also saw tons of scams.

I found out info about my landlord by going to the city tax site and I found out that they did indeed own the building and also found out they had paid their taxes on the building on time. That is what I would suggest you do, at the very least.
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