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Photo via Shutterstock
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Cops alerted Flushing, Whitestone and College Point residents who may be apartment hunting to rental listing scams in the area.

Inspector Judith Harrison, commanding officer of the 109th Precinct, asked attendees at the precinct’s Community Council meeting on May 10 to tell their friends and neighbors: if a rental listing sounds too goo to be true, it probably is.

“We have so many scams we’re combating,” Harrison said. “IRS scams; lottery scams. But now we’re seeing a lot of rental listing scams.”

Authorities from the precinct explained that perpetrators pretending to be real estate agents are using third-party websites like Craigslist to post apartments that are “for rent.” After contact is made via phone or email, the fake real estate agent will then request payment via Western Union, Money Gram or Green Dot Money Pak prior to meeting or viewing the apartment.

After the fake agent receives payment, he or she will claim to be out of the area, but will arrange that keys, which are false, be delivered to the victim. The fake agent may also ask for the victim to fill out an application with personal information, setting up the potential for identity theft.

In the end, there is no listing, Harrison said.

Residents should never complete an application or make advanced payment prior to actually seeing the listed apartment, cops said, and be wary when “agents” ask for wired money.

They also encouraged residents to research any agents who put up listings by conducting internet searches or with the Better Business Bureau.

Finally, if you feel think you have been a victim of a rental scam, report it immediately to the NYPD by calling 911.

“These are the kinds [of crimes] where you really have to be diligent, and you have to help us help you,” Harrison said.

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