My husband and I are going to Boston this fall. Investigating short-term rentals in the area on Craigslist, we found many appealing and reasonably-priced apartments. Clicking through the photos, it was hard to decide which of these attractive places would be most perfect for us.
By email, we discovered every apartment we wanted was available for the exact dates we needed. In addition, no references were required. Parking, wi-fi, linens, even some cooking staples were included in most. They were all impossibly perfect!
We requested and received a rental agreement for our top choice by email, which we promptly completed. The contract stated that our reservation for the apartment could be guaranteed by a wire transfer from our bank account to that of the landlord.
I headed to Northrim Bank where I asked teller Rod Cunan to wire the total of the deposit and one month’s rent from our checking account to the routing number on the rental contract. Rod began typing numbers into his computer. Then he stopped. He typed some more numbers and paused again, shaking his head.
“Are you sure this is the correct routing number? It doesn’t match the bank name. That bank is in Spain, but seems to have a branch in UK — or in Boston?” Rod asked if I was certain I wanted to make this transfer. My interest in this perfect apartment suddenly wilted.
On my phone, I googled the name of the realty firm from the agreement. The first two hits described a normal-sounding realtor. But my stomach dropped reading the third one down. It referred to “Craigslist scams” and described advertisements cloned from prior Craigslist apartment listings, in which the monthly rent had been slashed in half or even less. It mentioned “red flags,” including English punctuation and grammatical errors and inconsistencies in the photos. No doubt about it, the apartments in which we were interested did not exist. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true!
I am thankful for Rod Cunan’s alertness. If he had not paid close attention, my husband and I would have lost our hard-earned money to scheming internet thieves. We appreciate the care with which Northrim Bank trains its employee and we thank Rod Cunan for his vigilance!